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Airport police nab suspects selling fake COVID-19 certificates

Operatives of the Nigeria Police, Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Command, have arrested five suspects for selling fake COVID-19 certificates to travellers at the airport. Two other suspects are, however, said to be at large.

The arrested suspects include Achibong Idonrenyin, Moses Samuel, Popoola Adewale, Wale Aderele and Abdulmalik Ibrahim. The two at large are Shehu Imam and Adeola Darlington who works with Sky Blue Services Limited, cleaning service at the airport.

The police said the suspects had been selling fake COVID negative certificates to unsuspecting travellers within the international wing of the airport.

Briefing journalists on Thursday in his office at the airport, Bature Umar, Police Commissioner, Airports Command, said that the incident occurred on February 19, 2021, at the airport where a British Airways passenger, Michael Osagbogun was defrauded of the sum of N50,000 for COVID-19 test.

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According to the police chief, one of the suspects had approached Osagbogun promising to produce a COVID-19 test negative certificate for him.

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, he said, allegedly took the victim to one of the toilet facilities at the airport where the sum of 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 positive certificate was eventually procured for him

But, despite the payment of the sum, 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 emphasised that 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 Investigation Department (CID) and Aviation Security (AVSEC), a department in the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) tracked and arrested the suspects.

On interrogation, Umar explained that the suspects confessed to the crime, but claimed that it was their first time of engaging in the criminal activity.

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