Mauzu Bala, a Nigerian nabbed with Sh100 million (N450 million) in a bag at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport while heading to Dubai, United Arab Emirates has lost a bid to secure the release of the cash after a judge dismissed his application, saying it was premature.
According to Nation Africa, Justice James Wakiaga rejected Mauzu Bala’s application for the return of the money, saying whether he declared the currency in Nigeria before boarding the plane to the airport was not relevant at this stage.
The judge said the application, which was before the court was for preservation of the money, pending the conclusion of investigation to establish the source and legality of the money and whether Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) would file a petition for forfeiture of the money to the state.
“In the final analysis, I find no merit in the application for variation of the orders herein at this stage, which I hereby dismiss with costs in the cause,” the judge said.
The Nigerian made the application for the release of his money, so that he could proceed with his journey to Dubai. He claimed the country was only interested in taking his money and thereafter deporting him.
Bala argued that he had not been charged with any offence and the money should therefore be released.
“All the respondent is concerned with is to confiscate my hard-earned money and have me deported,” he said in an affidavit.
The Nigerian was detained on December 4 on his way to Dubai while carrying $880,000, €60,000 and N63,000 in his handbag. He had arrived through Kenya Airways flight KQ535 from Lagos and was waiting for connecting flight KQ310, to Dubai.
Justice Wakiaga later directed that the funds should be handed to the ARA for preservation but the Nigerian said he declared the money in Lagos before boarding the flight to Nairobi.
“At the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, I declared the currency and was cleared by customs for travel. I checked in the consignment and as is the usual norm in international travels, my next declaration point would have been Dubai International Airport,” he said.
Bala said he was surprised Kenya Airways cleared him in Lagos with “undeclared currency” only to pounce on him in Nairobi.
“The intention at the time could have been only to deprive me of my money,” he said.
He accused the officials of confiscating all his documents, including the customs clearance forms from Lagos, his passport, currency declaration acknowledgement from Dubai, as well as a declaration letter from Shah Jewellery Trading LLC. He has attached to the application, a letter from Ahammed Shuhaib, a partner of Shah Jewellery, who claims to own the money and that he was just an agent.
The ARA opposed the application, saying the documents Bala tabled were suspicious as some were dated a day after he had been intercepted at the JKIA.
Saharareporters, New York