Normalcy has returned to LEGICO Plaza in Victoria Island, Lagos, two weeks after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, said it uncovered N448,850,000 suspected to be laundered money in a shop.
A visit by PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday showed Bureau de Change operators, who occupy most of the shops in the plaza, going about their normal businesses.
The plaza is located at the 055 Nigerian Air Force Camp, LEGICO Barracks.
On April 8, the EFCC acting on a tip-off raided two shops, LS64 and LS67, which were under lock and key within the plaza.
According to the Commission, no money was found in Shop LS67, but in Shop LS64, heaps of Ghana-Must-Go bags were found in the shop which contained bundles of naira notes totaling N448,850,000.
“The shops had signages of Bureau de Change,” Wilson Uwujaren, the EFCC spokesperson said in a statement.
“Inquiries about the owner of shop 64 indicated that he had not been seen for a long time, as they claimed the shop had not been opened for business for close to two years.”
But PREMIUM TIMES checks showed that the owner of Shop 64 is well known to his colleagues, and is, in fact, a regular face at the plaza.
A shop owner and Bureau de Change operator who requested anonymity said the owner of Shop 64 “is walking freely in this plaza and the government haven’t caught him yet.”
“People around here say that the said money belongs to a senator who siphoned his constituency’s money and wanted to change it to dollars before the money was discovered.
“Nobody in this plaza is clean and you will see that they won’t want to talk to you about this issue.
“The government needs to make an example of these people, because the monies that were discovered in Ikoyi, we don’t know the outcome and now this money here, the man still walks freely and we still don’t know what the EFCC will do with the money.
“Until government makes an example of these people, nobody will make adjustments.”
Most of the traders at the plaza did not only refuse to comment on the cash discovery, but were hostile towards our correspondent. Those who managed to respond to inquiries said they were not around on the day of the EFCC raid.
It was also observed that shop LS64 where the heaps of Ghana-Must-Go bags, in N500 and N1,000 denominations, were found was still under lock whereas shop LS67 was open for business.
Last Wednesday, a Lagos Division of the Federal High Court ordered an interim forfeiture of the money following a motion ex-parte filed by Rotimi Oyedepo, an EFCC prosecutor.
In his ruling, Justice Rilwan Aikawa ordered anyone interested in the money to appear before him at the next adjourned date to show reason why the money should not be permanently forfeited to the Nigerian government.
The judge adjourned to May 19.