The Lagos State Police Command Headquarters are working effortlessly to track down Chibuzor Onuegbe, a 26-year-old airport cleaner who absconded with N252 million kept in the baggage store of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) by a middle aged woman for safe keeping.
The missing money which was packed in a bag in US dollar denomination totalling $1.5million was discovered missing on October 30, 2013 when the owner came to pick up the money.
After failed attempts by the airport authorities to find the suspect or the missing money, the owner of the stolen money then reported the case to the Commissioner of Police, Umaru Manko, Lagos Police Command headquarters, Ikeja who then directed the case to Abba Kyrai to carry out a thorough investigation about the said crime.
According to police report, the suspect has since relocated to the United Kingdom and three suspects have been arrested and presently in police custody for assisting Onuebge in carrying out the crime and leaving the country.
They are the cleaner’s accomplice Ifeanyi Francis, his girl friend Chioma Obinabor and his elder brother Kalu Faith Onuegbe.
Ifeanyi Francis, an Engineering student at Government Technical College, Owerri, Imo State during the course of the interrogation confessed that he only got N60 million from the deal.
“I met Chibuzor early last year when I travelled to Enugu and we became friends. I am aware that he works as a cleaner at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos. Sometime in October, he called me that there is a job that he wants to execute and I will earn so much money. I travelled down to Lagos with the excuse that I wanted to visit my sister who lives in Lagos.
“He told me that he wanted to smuggle out some abandoned luggage from the baggage store at the international airport. He gave me a bag containing old laptops and clothes. He also gave me a tag ticket which was attached to the bag.
The deal was that I would get to the airport as early as 6am and move to the baggage store and drop the bag. I will tell the store keeper that I want to register the bag and will be back in evening to pick it up.
“As agreed on October 30, 2013, I went to the baggage store with the bag that already had a tag. The store keeper asked me to pay N300 for a day and N600, if I am to pick it the next day. I paid N300 and dropped the bag. Later in the evening as agreed, I came to the airport and picked the bag. When I saw Chibuzor, he told me that the deal did not work out, and that I will be repeating the same process.”
The next day as agreed, Francis went through the same process and dropped the bag. In the evening at about 7 pm, he went back and picked the bag. “I discovered that the bag was unusually heavy. Since I knew what was on ground, I pretended that it was the same weight. It was easy to pick the bag because I had a tag and a ticket.
“I quickly moved and joined Chibuzor who was already with a taxi. I asked him what was in the bag and he told me to calm down that I will get to know. We arrived his street and stopped in an area where cars were parked. He opened the bag; it was then that I realised that it contained bundles of dollar notes.
“I was speechless because the amount was much. He told me that as a cleaner, he had access to the baggage room. All he did was to unlock my bag to which he had the key and transfer the bag of money into my own bag. He told me to calm down that there is a lot to gain and that he needs to contact his friends at the airport before the money will be shared. Those friends, he explained were the ones who gave him information that such amount of money was in the baggage room and the colour of the bag. He tried to close the bag and it was difficult, so he had to remove some bundles into another bag. We heard the voice of some boys coming towards us, so Chibuzor hurriedly left the spot and moved into their house. He forgot that he kept some money in the bag that I was holding. He rushed out and promised to call me for my share,” Francis further said.
According to him, as soon as he got home Chibuzor realised that he was carrying the naira equivalent of N60 million.
“I decided to keep that money since Chibuzor did not remember that it was in my bag. He called me later in the night demanding the money. I denied and he told me that I have taken my share. He switched off his phone and till date, I have not seen or heard from him.”
Investigations are still ongoing to find Onuegbe and the stolen money.