Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have arrested two suspects in connection with smuggling of Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards through the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.
A statement by the NDLEA’s spokesman Ofoyeju Mitchell said Nweke Pauline Osita, 40 years old and Egesiokwu Frank Chukwudi, 41 years old were arrested at the weekend with ATM cards of different banks.
“We arrested Nweke Pauline Osita with 65 debit cards and Egesiokwu Frank Chukwudi with twenty-four (24) debit cards during screening of passengers on an Ethiopian airline flight to China,” the statement quoted chairman of NDLEA Ahmadu Giade as saying.
Giade said that the suspects conspired with others to evade scrutiny from government agencies by opening various bank accounts with the aim of using the debit cards for daily withdrawals abroad.
The director of Assets and Financial Investigation of the agency, Mrs. Victoria Egbase said that the statements of the suspects had been taken under caution and that preliminary investigation points to the fact that the various bank accounts were opened to facilitate withdrawal of money outside the country.
Nweke Pauline Osita, an Onitsha based trader who was caught with 65 debit cards said that the cards belong to friends and business partners.
“I am a trader. I sell men clothes at Onitsha. I was on my way to China to buy goods when NDLEA officers arrested me with 65 debit cards. The cards belong to my friends, relatives and business partners” Nweke stated. He hails from Enugu State and married with two children.
The second suspect, Egesiokwu Frank Chukwudi who has a boutique at Aba, Abia State was found in possession of 24 debit cards. The NDLEA chairman has directed that the suspects be transferred to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) for further Investigation.
Recently, officials of the NDLEA had arrested a trader, Udeh Onuora Pascal who was travelling to China with 108 debit cards. “The arrests is an indication that smuggling of debit cards abroad is one of the latest money laundering techniques employed to evade financial regulations,” the NDLEA said.
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