A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered Tijjani Sherif, the man caught at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, while traveling with $7 million (about N1.1 billion) to forfeit 25 percent of the undeclared cash to the Federal Government.
Justice C.J Aneke gave the order after the 25-year-old man pleaded guilty to a charge of non-disclosure of the total sum of money in his possession, during checks at the airport.
The court also ordered the seizure of all travelling documents of the accused person.
It will be recalled that Tijani a Dubai bound traveler, and an international business tycoon, was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), for being in possession of the total sum of $7.5 Million.
After he pleaded guilty, the EFCC tendered documents related to the arrest of the accused as well as traveling documents which shows that about 20 traders contributed the said sum for the accused to make some purchases in Dubai
Counsel to the EFCC, Mohammed Yusuf had informed the court that the accused was arrested by the police on Sept. 27 at the international wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos.
The lawyer maintained that the accused who claimed to have collected various sums of money from different traders in Lagos, had failed to make a disclosure of the total sum of money he was conveying.
According to Yusuf, at the Customs check point of the airport, the accused had alleged that he had only $4.5 Million in his suit case.
He said that after a thorough search, the officers discovered that what the accused actually had in his possession was $7.5 Million contrary to his initial claim.
The lawyer further told the court that on the whole, a total sum of $8.3 Million had been recovered from the accused, which money was now deposited at the Guarantee Trust Bank Plc (GTB).
According to him the offence contravened section 12 of the Foreign Exchange Monitoring and Miscellanous Act, 2004.
Meanwhile, Counsel to the accused Mr Obafemi Ogundare, during allocutus (plea for leniency), urged the court to tamper justice with mercy, and be reluctant in confining the accused to prison since he is a first offender.
Ogundare pointed out that it would be a shame on the family of the accused, if their son was committed to prison, more so as he was a youngster.
In his judgment, Justice Aneke held that he has taken into the consideration the fact that the accused is a first offender and a very young man.
The judge observed that the accused did not benefit from the money directly and that the court case is an eye opener for the accused as he should have learnt his lesson by now.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, says it on Thursday arrested a bulk currency smuggler, one Abubakar Tijani Sheriff for attempting to smuggle $7million (about N1.101billion) out of the country.
A statement by the agency’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren read. The 24-year-old was arrested at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos en route Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Mr. Uwujaren said the suspect had escaped security scrutiny from other agencies at the airport but was apprehended at the point of boarding the plane by operatives of the Commission.
“When he was arrested, he declared that he had a total sum of $4.5million on him but a thorough screening and search showed that he was actually carrying $7,049,444 (Seven million, Forty Nine Thousand, Four Hundred and Forty Four United States Dollars)”.
Sheriff reportedly confessed that he was a courier for twenty individuals who hired him to courier the money for them to Dubai.
Uwajuren said “Investigations by the EFCC showed that Mr. Sheriff is a regular traveller and one of several couriers of illegal cash suspected to be proceeds of crime. The Commission is still investigating his claims in respect of his accomplices”.
The commission said its experience had shown that bulk cash smuggling, the world over, are usually associated with proceeds of crime as legitimately earned funds are usually processed through the banking system.
“Our experience in the last few years indicates an emerging trend of bulk cash smuggling to Europe, Middle East and North America with the attendant consequence for capital flight. Some Nigerian citizens are routinely arrested at airports in Europe and North American for currency smuggling though no such arrests have been recorded in the Middle East,” the statement said.
“But in all cases, the money is lost as they are never repatriated back to the country.”
The commission therefore warned travellers who for any reason want to move bulk cash out of the country to do so through the banking system or be prepared to declare it and explain the source of the money.
Meanwhile, the suspect is being detained at the EFCC’s holding facility in Lagos pending his arraignment in court.
Fans’ favourite Roger Federer helped himself to a record fifth title when he fought past Britain’s Andy Murray in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open at a packed Dubai Tennis Stadium on Saturday night.
Watched by Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirate (UAE) and Ruler of Dubai, and Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman, Dubai Sports Council, for a major part of the first set, the Swiss went on to record a 7-5, 6-4 victory.
The capacity crowd rose to the occasion to welcome Federer as champion for a record fifth time in Dubai following his earlier successes in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007. “I think I played well in the big points tonight and that is what made the difference,” Federer said.
He received the winner’s trophy from Shaikh Hasher Maktoum, Dubai Director of Information and President of Tennis Emirates; Shaikh Ahmad Al Sabah, Chairman, Kuwait Tennis Association; Abdul Rahman Falaknaz, Vice-President, Tennis Emirates; Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman, Dubai Duty Free, and other officials.
Making his fourth appearance here, Murray had never previously got past the quarter-finals. But during the course of the week he showed all signs of maintaining his career edge against the former world No 1.
Playing both Djokovic — whom he beat in the semi-finals — and Federer at the same tournament for the first time ever, Murray was broken for the only time in the opening set in the 11th game. That put Federer 6-5 up and then served out 7-5 in 52 minutes.
In the second set, Federer assumed early control with a break in the third to go 2-1, up but squandered the advantage as Murray bounced right back with a break — the first against Federer’s serve in 65 service games — and then hold for a 3-2 lead.
Federer had not previously been broken since the semi-finals in Rotterdam against Nikolay Davydenko last month.
However, Federer was far from finished as he broke Murray a second time when the Scotsman netted a backhand return in the ninth game to enable the second-seeded Swiss to serve out for set and match in an hour and 36 minutes.
Federer received the winner’s cheque of $409,170 (Dh1.5 million).