How Brussels-bound bizman was caught with counterfeit currencies, 448 travelers cheques, by NDLEA
A Federal High Court Lagos presided over by Justice Mohammed Idris was on Wednesday February 28, 2018, told how a Brussels-bound businessman, Jonathan Odu Isikwei, was arrested at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja Lagos in possession of 448 pieces of Travelers Cheques (TC).
The court obtained the information from a prosecution witness and official of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Alala Erondu, on Wednesday February 28, while being led in evidence by the prosecutor, Mr S.T Ola.
The witness told the court that he together with his colleagues arrested the defendant while trying to board a Lufthansa Airline to Brussels, Belgium on September 18, 2015.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had, on July 6, 2017 docked Isikwei before the court on a 15-count charge bordering on possession of counterfeit currencies to the tune of CAD $17,500, USD $14,300 and unlawful possession of 448 pieces of traveler cheques. He had
pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The witness, Erondu, who was led in evidence before the court by the EFCC counsel, S T Ola, said that while he and his team were at Screening Point 1 of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, they saw the defendant while trying to board Lufthansa Airline enroute to Brussels, Belgium, adding that the defendant was interrogated based on reasonable suspicion.
He said that while the defendant was being interrogated, "we found a parcel in his possession, and we asked him to open it, but he refused. He told us that he was not the owner of the parcel and that the parcel was given to him by his friend. After a long arguments, he agreed to open it, and we found in it 448 pieces of traveler cheques of different banks in Europe and America.
"Based on that, he was taken to our office for further investigation and after concluding our preliminary investigation, our chairman hand over the defendant to EFCC for further investigation.
''He was handed over to EFCC because the alleged offence committed was in our jurisdiction", the witness testified.
The prosecuting counsel, Ola tendered Belgian International passport recovered from the defendant , 488 traveller cheques recovered from him were also tendered as exhibits before the court
After adopting the exhibits tendered,the trial judge adjourned the matter till March 14 and 15 for continuation of trial.
One of the counts levied against the defendant reads:
“That you, Jonathan Odu Isikwei on or about the 18th day of September, 2015 at Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, had in your possession, negotiable instrument of Postbank Frankfurt with registration number 29734, knowing it to be counterfeit and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 5 (1) (b) of the Counterfeit Currency (Special Provisions) Act, Cap C35, Vol.4, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
Another count reads: “That you, Jonathan Odu Isikwei, on or about the 18th day of September, 2015 at Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, had in your possession, negotiable instrument of Gunnebo Canada Inc., with registration number 152501 and value of CAD $3, 500 (Three Thousand, Five Hundred Canadian Dollars), knowing it to be counterfeit and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 5 (1) (b) of the Counterfeit Currency (Special Provisions) Act, Cap C35, Vol. 4, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”