The Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos Command of the Nigeria Police has arrested five suspects at the airport who allegedly deal in selling fake COVID-19 certificates at the airport.
According to the police, two other suspects are still at large.
The suspects, Achibong Idonrenyin, Moses Samuel, Popoola Adewale, Wale Aderele and Abdulmalik Ibrahim, were paraded yesterday over alleged sale of the fake certificate to unsuspecting travelers within the precinct of the airport.
The Airport Police Commissioner, Mr. Bature Umar, also gave the names of the fleeing suspects as Shehu Imam and Adeola Darlington who work with a cleaning service at the airport.
Briefing newsmen at the airport, he disclosed that the incident occurred on February 19, 2021, at the airport where a British Airways passenger, Michael Osagbogun, was defrauded of the sum of N50,000 for the COVID-19 test.
According to the Commissioner, one of the suspects had approached Osagbogun, promising to produce a COVID-19 test negative certificate for him.
He added that two of the suspects, Popoola Adewale and Adeola Darlington, allegedly took the victim to a restroom within the airport where the sum of N50,000 was obtained from him for the ‘valid’ COVID-19 negative certificate.
Umar explained 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.
It was, however, learnt that the victim, who was travelling to London, United Kingdom, was denied boarding when the airline officials detected that he was holding a fake COVID-19 certificate.
The Commissioner said the victim immediately raised the alarm, which led to the arrest of four suspects and a guarantor to one of the two suspects at large.
Umar explained that the combined team of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and Aviation Security (AVSEC), a department in the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), had to lay an ambush for the suspects before they were arrested.
On interrogation, Umar explained that the suspects confessed to the crime, but claimed that it was their first time engaging in such.
He, however, said that further investigations by the police revealed that the suspects had been in the heinous crime for several months.
He 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 has been impounded and will be used as an exhibit in the court of law.
“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 are providing information that will aid investigation to the police.”
He said the suspects would be charged to court on Friday while advising travelers to be wary of activities of criminals at the airport.