Maj. Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd)

Drug trafficking: FG to sanction airlines for wrong baggage tags

NEWS DIGEST–The Federal Government on Thursday said it would henceforth sanction airlines that wrongly tag names of innocent travellers on bags containing illicit drugs on international flights.

The Presidential Advisory Committee on Elimination of Drug Abuse made this known at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, during a stakeholders’ meeting with security operatives.

The Chairman of the Committee, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (retd.), said drug trafficking and abuse had become a challenge and a dangerous trend in the country.

Marwa said the government planned to prevent the export and import of drugs, which he said had been killing many young people.

He said the Federal Government had discovered that some innocent Nigerian travellers had been arrested, jailed or killed in other countries due to the carelessness of airlines and baggage handlers.

Marwa said, “We have heard of the huge arrests in Saudi Arabia and other countries and preliminary investigations revealed that some innocent passengers have had baggage that does not belong to them tagged by airlines in their names leading to their arrest by security agencies on arrival at their destinations.

“Some airline workers collude with some persons to check in and tag passengers name on baggage that they are not aware of and which does not belong to them.

“We want to end the issue of innocent passengers check in and have their baggage tagged wrongly. Henceforth, such airlines will be penalised once we discover that such a thing happened on their flight.”

He stated that the Federal Government, worried about the trend, inaugurated the committee to bring recommendations that were implementable and sustainable for government to implement towards addressing the scourge of drug abuse in the country.

“You won’t have drug abuse except there are drugs and we are all affected in one way or the other. Drug abuse is a huge challenge, but it is surmountable especially with the right political will and President Muhammadu Buhari has the political will to achieve this,” he said.

According to Marwa, Lagos airport has become one of the biggest entry and exit points for drugs in the country, adding that the trend must be brought to an end.

The Commander, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, MMIA Command, Mr Garba Ahmadu, stated that since the beginning of the year, the agency had intercepted 94.120 kg of cocaine, methamphetamine, ephedrine, cannabis and other illicit drugs while 26 people were arrested with five convictions within the period.

The security agencies present at the meeting said tracking criminals had been challenging due to lack of adequate technology such as Advanced Passenger Information System for profiling, sniffer dogs, poor staff remuneration and training.