April 16, 2024

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MMIA Police smashes syndicate issuing fake COVID-19 certificate

3 min read

Bature A. Umar, Police Commissioner, Murtala Mohammed International Airport Command, Ikeja, Lagos

The Eagle eye cops at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, has nabbed five suspects among a seven-member syndicate that specializes in issuing fake Covid-19 Negative Certificate to travellers.

Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Police Commissioner, Mr Bature Umar, while making known the scam and the scammers said the fraudulent incident occurred on 19th February 2021, at the airport where a British Airways passenger, Michael Osagbogun, was defrauded of the sum of N50,000 for Covid-19 test.

The five suspects arrested and paraded by the Police Commissioner before the airport correspondents were, Achibong Idonrenyin, Moses Samuel, Popoola Adewale, Wale Aderele and Abdulmalik Ibrahim.

Five of the seven-members syndicate that specializes in issuing fake COVID-19 Negative Certificate to air travellers on parade at MMIA, Ikeja, Lagos. Foto credit: NigerianFlightDeck

The Police Chief said the syndicate specialized in selling fake Covid-19 Negative Certificates to unsuspecting travellers within the international airport.

Bature Umar announced the names of two other members of the syndicate at large, Shehu Imam and Adeola Darlington who are employees with Sky Blue Services limited, a cleaning service at the airport.

According to the Commissioner, one of the suspects had approached Osagbogun promising to produce a negative Covid-19 test certificate for him.

Two of the suspects who by the nature of their work knew the airport inside out, Popoola Adewale and Adeola Darlington, allegedly took their victim to one of the toilets at the airport where the sum of N50,000 was obtained under the pretext of producing a valid Covid-19 Negative Certificate for the victim.

The Police Commissioner narrated that one of the suspects took the victim to DAT Cybercafe at No. 4, Oriyomi Street, Ikeja, where a fake Covid-19 Negative Certificate was eventually procured for him.

However, luck ran against their victim who was on his way to London, when he was denied boarding by the officials of British Airways due to the fake Covid-19 Negative Certificate he presented at the Check-in counter.

Bature related that when it was obvious the passenger would not make the flight due to the dud COVID-19 Negative Certificate he brandished, he raised alarm and narrated how he procured the certificate and the airport cops immediately swung into action which led to the arrest of four members of the syndicate, while a guarantor to one of the two suspects at large was equally arrested.

The Police Commissioner explained that the combined team of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and Aviation Security (AVSEC), a department in the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), laid an ambush for the suspects before they could be arrested.

On interrogation, Umar explained that the suspects confessed to the crime, but claimed that it was their first time engaging in the criminal activity.

He, however, said that further investigation revealed that the suspects had been in the heinous crime for several months. He vowed that the command would not relent in his efforts at smashing criminal activities and criminals within the airport.

Bature Umar said: “Upon interrogation, the suspects confessed to the crime and the sum of N50,000, which they obtained from the victim was recovered from them, while the computer used for the crime had been impounded and will be presented as an exhibit in the court of law.

On the status of the passenger in the matter, Umar explained, “the passenger as far as we are concerned is a victim. He was the one that reported the case to us after he was denied boarding by the officials of the airline. So far, the suspects have provided information that will aid investigation to the police.”, he said.

He said that the suspects would be arraigned in the court of competent jurisdiction tomorrow, Friday.

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