A Nigerian man who worked as a private security guard at Newark-Liberty International Airport on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to identity theft of a man killed in New York 20 years ago, prosecutors said.
Bimbo Olumuyiwa Oyewole, 54, is accused of using the identity of Jerry Thomas and taking up work as a security guard by way of a phony name
Mr Oyewole is also believed to have been using the Social Security card and birth record of Thomas, who was murdered in Queens, New York in 1992, about the same time the suspect resumed work at the airport – which is one of the busiest in the world.
Officials say Mr Oyewole is an illegal immigrant in the US but passed numerous background checks with the New Jersey State Police and Border Protection.
Until his arrest at his residence in Elizabeth, New Jersey on Monday, Mr Oyewole was a supervisor with FJC Security Services, a private security company at the airport, where he was in charge of about 30 guards.
What US intelligence community is currently looking at is how he successfully scaled through several background checks carried out by his employer, the New Jersey Police, and the US Customs and Border Protection, over the years undetected.
FJC Security Services Spokesman, Michael McKeon said, “In all cases, he passed the background checks,” adding, “during his time with FJC, he had nothing in his record or his performance to indicate a cause for concern or a reason to question the state police and federal government’s background checks.”
Mr Oyewole’s arrest is also raising questions on the effectiveness of some of the post 9/11 security measures put in place, particularly with regards to airport security personnel screening. Coincidentally, Newark Liberty International Airport was one of the airports from where the 9/11 highjackers took-off.
Though, no other motive, apart from identity theft had been established in his arrest, investigators may however be looking into whether there is a nexus between the murder of Thomas and his stolen identity, which Oyewole assumed shortly after the victim’s death.
A statement issued by the Homeland Security Transportation Security Subcommittee of the US House of Representatives Tuesday said a hearing on airport security breaches would hold on Wednesday (today).
Though the statement did not make reference to the arrest of Oyewole, it however said the hearing would be on, “Access Control Point Breaches at Our Nations’s Airports: Anomalies or Systemic Failures?”