AMINU SULE LAMIDO
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
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On or about the 11th of December 2012 at the Aminu Kano International Airport, Aminu Sule Lamido while transporting cash in the sum of $50,000.00 from Nigeria to Cairo, Egypt falsely declared to the Nigerian Customs Service the sum of $10,000.00 instead of the said sum of $50,000.00.
Lamido was arrested and arraigned before the Federal High Court on a one-count charge of false declaration of foreign exchange contrary to the provisions of Section 12 of the Foreign Exchange Act and Section 2(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 and punishable under Section 2 (5) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011.
Lamido pleaded not guilty to the charge and the matter proceeded to trial. At the close of trial, the Federal High Court found him guilty as charged and sentenced him to forfeiture of 25% of undeclared funds of the money found on him.
Dissatisfied with the decision, Lamido appealed to the Court of Appeal. On appeal, the Court of Appeal determined whether the Federal High Court was correct to find Lamido guilty
What is the legal effect where a person transporting foreign currency into or out of Nigeria falsely declares the amount of foreign currency in his possession?
Section 2(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act provides that:
Transportation of cash or negotiable instrument in excess of US$10,000 or its equivalent by individuals in or out of the Country shall be declared to the Nigerian Customs Service
The Court of Appeal stated that the offence with which Lamido was charged was created and made punishable by Section 2 (5) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011. The section reads: ” Any person who falsely declares or fails to make a declaration to the Nigerian Customs Service pursuant to section 12 of the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to forfeit not less than 25% of the undeclared funds or negotiable instrument or to imprisonment of not less than 2 years or to both..”
The Court further stated that to secure a conviction for the offence of false declaration of foreign exchange the following must exist, (i) an accused person made a declaration to the authority, in this case, the Nigerian Customs Service; (ii) that the declaration was false, (iii) that the accused knew that the declaration was false; and (iv) that the declaration was made to the officer of the Nigerian Customs Service by the accused person knowing that the declaration was false.
The Court of Appeal held that the Federal High Court was correct when it found Lamido was guilty of the offence of false declaration of foreign exchange.
In conclusion, the Court of Appeal held that the appeal had no merit and dismissed it.