AUTHORITIES of the Nigerian Airport agencies had adopted fresh measures to deal with the reported incidences of hard drugs found on innocent travellers in foreign countries.
This is following reports that there exists across all the international airports in Nigeria a cartel that specialises in planting drugs in luggage belonging to unsuspecting air passengers.
Airlines are now required to design a document for each of their passengers to sign stating the number of luggage they are checking in and what they contain, according to a report by The Nigerian Tribune.
There will be an increase in the monitoring of airline staff members that are directly or indirectly involved in the checking in of passengers’ luggage, the report added.
Also, plans are on the way to dismantle shops in the general area of departure halls which experts say could be used to harbour the hard drugs.
The report quoted Ambrose Umoru, Commander of the Aminu Kano International Airport command of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), as saying that “the agency was determined to put a decisive stop to the criminality of the few who smuggle drugs into and through the airport”.
Explaining the mode of operation of the criminals, Umoru said they “usually claim that they have excess luggage. They, therefore, bribe airline baggage handlers to help them tag bags with names of passengers who do not have enough luggage.
“Sometimes even the airline staff may not know they are being used for drugs but because bribe money is involved, they do it for them,” Umoru said.
He said travellers should not allow anyone to handle their luggage except such a one has the official mandate to do so.
Similarly, John Achema, the spokesperson of the NDLEA headquarters in Abuja, said the agency was the first to notice and uncover the activities of drug cartels across Nigerian airports, adding that it was not resting on its oars.
“We are doing everything to ensure we bring this criminality to the end. NDLEA is doing everything possible to rid the airports of this drug cartel. It may interest you to know that it was the efforts of our officials that exposed the activities of the drug cartel,” he said.
Recently, the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Foreign Relations and the Diaspora, Abike Dabiri, had expressed sadness at the execution of a Nigerian lady, Kudirat Adesola Afolabi, in Saudi Arabia after the country’s courts found her guilty of drug trafficking.
Afolabi was executed as a result of an alleged delay by the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to inform the Saudi authorities of an investigation which had established that she was not the owner of the luggage tagged in her name in which the drugs were said to have been discovered.
“We have had cases where truly they didn’t commit the offence. We have appealed to the Saudi Authorities to make the trials fair, open and ensure that justice is done. Even if you are going to die, you will know that you die for an offence you committed,” Dabiri was quoted as saying.
“So, while we appeal to Nigerians going to Saudi Arabia, we know it is tough, obey the laws of the land. Even Kolanut is treated as a drug.
“We have 20 of them in Saudi, this (Afolabi) is the eighth to be executed and we are hopeful that maybe we will be able to save the others.”
According to her, there 20 Nigerians on death row in Saudi Arabia “had drugs found hidden in their bodies, eg, their private parts.
“NDLEA must do more to arrest them in Nigeria,” Dabiri had said.