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Millions seized from Nigerian diplomat in India

Parul Malhotra & Sumon Chakrabarti
Posted Tuesday , May 22, 2007 at 21:15
Updated Tuesday , May 22, 2007 at 21:18 Email Print

DEALING IN MILLIONS: Captain Ojedokun is now behind the walls of his country's High Commission.

After being questioned by income tax authorities in connection with the biggest ever cash haul at an Indian airport, Captain Ojedokun is now behind these walls of his country's High Commission.

So prickly are the Nigerians about this incident that it appears they all have gone underground. No one is available to talk to us about this episode.

MEA sources dismiss any link between this case and that of two Indians kidnapped recently in Nigeria.

But the source and the intended use of the money remain unclear. It could be linked to a thriving drug syndicate, some suspect.

The finance ministry has already submitted a preliminary report to the foreign ministry where officials are describing the case as unprecedented.

They are in touch with the newly appointed Nigerian High Commissioner on the way forward.

India's options are limited. The defence adviser to the Nigerian envoy in India can be only be expelled from the country.

He cannot be arrested unless the Nigerians waive his diplomatic immunity, which is considered unlikely.

The Department of Revenue Intelligence is seriously investigating the drugs angle. They say that drugs coming from Afghanistan and Latin America, and headed to China, are increasingly being routed through India.

That perhaps explains why both governments are keen to resolve the matter quietly

Nigeria: '$2.27m Found on Capt. Ojedokun Approved'

This Day (Lagos)

24 May 2007
Posted to the web 24 May 2007

Juliana Taiwo

Nigerian Miltary may have approved the $2.27 million found on the Nigerian Defence Attaché to India, Navy Captain G. A. Ojedokun, for which he was arrested by Indian security agencies, a senior officer in the Military who would not want his name in print yesterday clarified that the money was duly approved by the Ministry of Defence for certain projects earmarked for the Nigerian High Commission in India.

He said the money was part of an approval released for the project after the endorsement of the Defence Ministry, pointing out that the project was initially meant to be undertaken by the former Defence Adviser, also a Navy Captain, who is currently attending the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, in Kuru near Jos, Plateau State.

"Following the appointment of the new Defence Adviser, the cost of the project was reviewed downwards. From our discussions with the Ojedokun and investigations, we discovered that the officer was trying to return the money which is the balance of the original sum that was approved to the country."

The senior officer explained that problems arose when he failed to declare that he had such an amount of money on him, which is normal international practice.

Explaining that the arrested Captain has since been released and has resumed duties at the Nigerian mission in India, the senior officer said the incident was blown out of proportion simply because it involved a diplomat.

When contacted for comments on the development, a senior official of the ministry who pleaded anonymity said "the Defence headquarters has set up a board of enquiry to further investigate the incident and unravel the circumstances surrounding it."

It would be recalled that the Indian Airport Authorities on the allegation that he was trying to smuggle out the $2.27million arrested Ojedokun an attache to the Nigerian High Commission in India.

He was said to have been stopped while about to board an Ethiopian airline flight bound for Lagos on Monday night, when the scanner revealed he had stacks of cash in his bag.

Indian authorities were said to be investigating whether there is a connection between Ojedokun and a drug syndicate in Nigeria, because he failed to mention if the money was linked to the Nigerian mission.

$2.3mn seized from Nigerian diplomatPublished:
Wednesday, 23 May, 2007, 09:11 AM Doha Time

NEW DELHI: A Nigerian diplomat held at the airport here for carrying more than $2mn was freed yesterday but the cash was seized after he failed to account for it, officials said.
G A Ojedokun, defence attache at the Nigerian embassy in New Delhi, was detained on Monday at the Indira Gandhi International Airport after a security check led to the discovery of $2.27mn in his hand baggage.
“The diplomat had claimed it contained clothes but on a search 150 paper packets packed with $100 bills were found,” an official from the airport’s air intelligence wing said.

Ojedokun, who was not permitted to board a Lagos-bound Ethiopian Airlines passenger plane, was released yesterday after he demanded diplomatic immunity, the official said.

S S Khan, director-general of income tax, said the cash had been seized.
“We have released him after his interrogation but his explanation about the source of money was not satisfactory and that is why we seized the entire money,” Khan said.

Khan denied speculation that the seizure was any in way linked to the kidnapping of two Indians in Nigeria.

“So far our investigations have not given us any hint that it was linked to ransom money. But we will get to the bottom of this incident soon,” he said.
The government has been in touch with the Indian high commission in Nigeria hoping for an early release of Sunil Dave and Debashish Kakoty, who were kidnapped on Saturday by militants armed with dynamite and machine guns from the oil heartland of Port Harcourt.

External affairs ministry officials said they had informed their counterparts in Abuja of the incident involving Ojedokun, who was posted to the Indian capital three months ago.

Diplomats at the Nigerian embassy here were not available for comment.
Recently, a son of a Nigerian diplomat was held on charges of narcotics peddling.
As many as 43 Nigerians are being held in a New Delhi prison on charges ranging from drug trafficking to money laundering, according to official records. – Agencies


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