Arik Debacle: NDLEA Now Searches Airport Stewards

Following the recent interception of cocaine trafficked by an Arik Airline worker, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has decided to extend its searchlight on cleaners, air traffic controllers and other workers believed to have enjoyed special treatment at the nation’s international airport.

The NDLEA said with the latest discovery that hard drugs could be smuggled by airline and airport workers through items like food, it had become necessary for every worker to be screened like passengers and visitors to the airports.

Officials of the United Kingdom Border Force had arrested an Arik Air crew member, Chika Egwu Udensi, at the London Heathrow Airport, shortly after an Arik Air flight W3101, which departed from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, touched down in the UK.

The NDLEA put the street value of the 20kg drug found with the suspect at £350,000 (N105m).

The agency also said it had obtained closed-circuit television footage of how another Arik Air worker, Ikechukwu Chibuzor Oliver, who works as a catering loader, smuggled three bags of cocaine among food supplies for flight W3101.

The Head, Public Affairs, NDLEA, Mr. Mitchell Ofoyeju on Friday, explained that the agency was usually the last line of fence in airport security system.

He stated that the agency had resolved to put all workers across all departments in the airports under its watch to ensure that “there is no repeat of this ugly incident.”

Ofoyeju added, “We have extended our focus to more areas: The catering department, which we have just uncovered now; the maintenance department, those that are in charge of maintenance; the cleaners, there are cleaners that clean sensitive areas of the airport like the tarmac and the ramps.

“Another area we are looking at is those that are in charge of ticketing; they are also part of the airport community. Also, those that handle the luggage; once the luggage is checked in, they go through the conveyor belt to the basement, where the loaders will transport them to the aircraft. All these areas will be given 100 per cent attention. Even the air traffic control personnel will be on our list.

“We are also looking at increasing our surveillance of those that own restaurants within the premises. It will also include the car park and the drivers. All these make the big picture for the airport community.”

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