THE International Mails Processing Centre (IMPC) at Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, which was fitted with sophisticated security technology to fight criminal activities a few years ago, has been hugely successfully, according to Nigeria’s Postmaster General, Mallam Ibrahim Mori Baba. He noted that the criminal activities included currency counterfeiting, identity theft, advance fee fraud (popularly known as 419 in the Nigeria criminal code), and the transmission of illegal, counterfeit and dangerous items through the post.
Baba said that the collaboration between NIPOST and the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) had led to the interception of fake financial instruments worth $16.2 million, £2.3 million and €5.7 million, plus 2, 684 blank cheques, 16 international passports, 201 resident permits and fake currencies: $19, 000 and €4, 500 in 2008. In 2009 NIPOST intercepted $5.7 million, £7.05 million and €5.5 million in addition to 473 blank cheques, 10 drivers’ licences and 162 scam mails. By 2014, the system had intercepted N11.9 billion worth of foreign currencies and 159 scam mails.
Recently, the criminals have diversified into covert mailing of rhino and elephant tusks, Baba said. He disclosed that 17 parcels of African elephant tusks were hidden inside engine fitters with sophisticated machines. AT&IT was informed that the market value of a kilo of the tusk is about $1, 800.
It has been a flourishing relationship between NIPOST and the British government over the years. Recently, new security equipment provided by the NCA was unveiled by the Deputy British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Martin Uden in the company of Paul Davis of the NCA. The new equipment, according to Uden is the second in a series to be provided for the NIPOST in the last 10 years. He noted that the NCA, formerly known as Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), had been pleased with the robust management and engagement of the previous equipment in tackling crimes being perpetrated via the post.
Aware that the criminal elements have also stepped up their game in the bid to beat the old technology, he noted that the NCA had provided another sophisticated and quite expensive security gadget to stem the criminal tide. He said that the British government was happy to be in partnership with the Nigerian government to fight such organised crimes hence, the regular training of NIPOST personnel in the operation and management of the ultra-modern security equipment. Six of the NIPOST personnel were trained in Accra for the same purpose.
General Manager IMPC Mallam Yahaya Rufai specifically noted that the number of bank notes intercepted in the last couple of years was put at over £500 million. He reassured Nigerians that with the deployment of this technology, the criminal activities through the post to the United Kingdom and other Western European countries would be disrupted and the perpetrators brought to justice. He disclosed that items intercepted through the system were already on display at the EFFC office in Lagos.
Among other things, the security technology has been programme to detect dangerous and prohibited goods in packages travelling through the international mail networks. These include explosives such as fireworks and gun-powders, aerosol and spray cans and other compressed gases, lighter fuels, perfumes, matches and other inflammable materials, corrosives such as mercury, counterfeit and pirated items, elephant tusks and liquids.
Some of the security collaborating agencies present at the handing over of the equipment were the Directorate of State Security (DSS), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Nigerian Custom Service (NCS), and Quarantine.happy wheels