By Biola Adebayo
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has reacted to claims by Union Bank and Bankers Warehouse Limited that the $2.8m (N1.02bn) seized by the EFCC from two men at the Enugu airport on Friday was legitimate.
Union Bank had said moving money in such a manner was not illegal and was routine.
The Bankers Warehouse Limited, which moved the funds on behalf of Union Bank, said in a letter addressed to the Central Bank of Nigeria that it did nothing illegal and asked the apex bank to compel the EFCC to release the money.
The letter read in part, “We want to convey to you that once again, we are facing a challenge with one of the security agencies (this time the EFCC) which detained our couriers while trying to board an Arik Air flight from Enugu to Lagos, conveying currency on behalf of Union Bank. They were transporting US dollars.
“When questioned, they presented their identity cards, identifying themselves as Bankers Warehouse employees on official CIT movement and also presented the letter of authority issued by the bank covering the movement.
“Despite this information, the EFCC insisted on detaining our employees, taking possession of our goods and threatening to confiscate the currency without making themselves available to our senior managers or other agencies familiar with our movement.”
In his reaction, however, the acting Spokesman for the EFCC, Mr. Tony Orilade, said the commission invited officials of the bank but they refused to show up.
He said investigations were still on and the outcome of the probe would determine the agency’s next line of action.
Orilade added, “On the Union Bank saga, the way forward is that investigation is ongoing.
“On the detention of their staff and threat to confiscate the money, this is neither here nor there. The two men arrested with the money were detained because they have to offer relevant information.
“The bank refused to honour invitation from the time of the arrest until we had to go out with the story. That was when they suddenly realised they need to honour the invitation. Be that as it may, a thorough investigation has to be carried out as to the source and legitimacy of the money because we are not unaware that some financial institutions are being used to launder money.”