There was a mild drama at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos on February 15, 2019 on the eve of the aborted presidential and National Assembly elections.
Punch Newspaper reported that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was barred from investigating a private jet loaded with money.
The private jet was to take off to Ilorin, Kwara state on the evening of the postponed general election.
However, the private jet failed to take off due to the heavy weight of the money on board, the newspaper reported.
Quoting multiple sources, the newspaper said EFCC operatives who were tipped-off about the cargo stormed the plane demanding the source of the money, its owner and destination.
The crew reportedly told the operatives that the money was meant for election expenses in Kwara State, but the operatives allegedly insist on taking away the money.
The report revealed that the scene was later taken over by the Nigeria soldiers after the EFCC received a phone call from the Presidency to backoff.
The sources reportedly said, “The EFCC operatives interrogated the crew and they claimed they were part of the government. They also gave a code which they assumed the operatives would understand, but the detectives insisted on taking away the money.
“However, a phone call came from the Presidential Villa ordering them to hands off the matter and clear off from the scene. Shortly after, armed soldiers took over the scene and the money was transferred into another plane which took off by 10pm that night.”
Punch added “The Public Relations Officer, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, could not be reached for comments on the aircraft involved in the cash movement as she did not respond to calls to her phone. She had yet to respond to a text message as of the time of filing this report.”
Responding to the situation, the Acting Spokesman of the EFCC, Tony Orilade claimed that the authenticity of the photos which was shared on social media could have been a created and recreated image.
He insinuated that the photos may have been manipulated without taking the presence of its operatives into account.
He said, “On the plane-load of cash you asked about, I saw the pictures and we know that these pictures are things that can be manipulated to achieve the purposes by their producers. All the reports from the field are being reviewed and we shall come out with our position once it is ready.”
Orilade added, “Let’s not be carried away by the activities of mischief-makers; like the acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu said, we shall continue to do the right thing to make Nigeria a better country for everyone.”
The Commission may look the other way on the movement of the huge cash which was found in two bullion vans by the leader of the All Progressives Congress Bola Tinubu.
Tinubu was said to have publicly admitted to journalists in Lagos that he transported the bulk money into his Ikoyi residence which is a violation of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.
When queried about the two bullion van transfered to his house, Atibu said “What is your issue with bullion vans in my house? I have not done any government business in the last five years. So I didn’t steal government money.
“And the bullion van was not said to contain election materials, so what offence have I committed? I decide where to keep it (money) and how to keep it.”
Punch Newspaper however, quoted the response of the EFCC spokesman after he was asked about the bullion van. He said “You will agree with me that to a large extent, we were able to curtail vote-buying with our men conspicuously positioned at polling booths across the country in the course of the elections,” he said.