Police have arrested five people for allegedly selling fake COVID-19 at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos. Two others were said to be on the run. The police said the suspects, Achibong Idonrenyin, Moses Samuel, Popoola Adewala, Wale Aderele and Abdulmalik Ibrahim, specialised in selling fake COVID- 19 negative certificates to unsuspecting travellers within the international wing of the airport. The suspects at large are Shehu Imam and Adeola Dalington, who work with Sky Blue Services Limited, a cleaning service at the airport.
Briefing journalists yesterday in his office at the airport, the Airports Police Command, Mr. Bature Umar, said the incident occurred on February 19, 2021 at the airport where a British Airways passenger, Michael Osagbogun, was defrauded of N50,000 for COVID-19 test.
Umar said one of the suspects had approached Osagbogun and promised to produce a COVID-19 test negative certificate for him. The commissioner added that two of the suspects, Popoola Adewale and Adeola Dalington, who knew the airport environment well due to the nature of their jobs at the airport, allegedly took the victim to one of the toilet facilities at the airport where N50,000 was obtained from him under the pretext of producing a valid COVID-19 negative certificate for the victim.
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. But despite the payment of the money, he said the victim, who was on his way to London, United Kingdom, was denied boarding by the officials of the airline based on the fake COVID-19 negative certificate he presented at the counters. He 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 the Criminal Investigations 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.
The commissioner explained that on interrogation, the suspects confessed to the crime, but claimed that it was the first time they engaged in criminal activity. He, however, said that further investigations by the police revealed that the suspects had been in the heinous crime for several months. The commissioner vowed that the command would not relent in its activities at exposing criminal activities within the airport. He advised the travelling public to be wary of the activities of criminals within the airport.