Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja

Abuja airport’s weird duty free policy, By Adesola Adeyinka

NEWS DIGEST – For Nigerians flying out of the newly built international airport in Abuja, there exists a strange rule about items bought in the duty free shop at the airport. In other countries, items bought from their duty free shop can be taken on board without a hassle, on the rare occasion that said item would be questioned, a receipt to show it was gotten at the duty free is enough to allow the passenger board the plane with the item. But in Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, having a receipt for your item does not guarantee that you can board with it, especially if it is a liquid item over the normally prescribed size, it is compulsory that the item must be in the duty free shipping bag given after making a purchase.

On the 4th of December 2019, a passenger attempting to board with a bottle of Bombay Sapphire was denied access to board the plane because he had thrown out the duty free shopping bag, but was able to produce the receipt for the drink. The airport officials told him he would not be allowed to board with it because he did not have the bag, and went further to explain that if he had the bottle in the shopping bag, they would not have checked what was in the bag, they would have searched all his other things and granted him passage to board, and proceeded to call their manager to further explain this strange rule.

One question asked also was, after going through security, why are the bags of passengers still being searched one by one at the boarding gate? It is unheard of that security checks are still being done right at the boarding gate. Although it could be that it is just a way to create more employment opportunities for Nigerians but it is an immense time waster. Nobody expects that after being checked and gotten to the gate, you cannot peacefully buy things in duty free and toss the bag away.

There were comments of disappointment being passed by onlooking passengers during the exchange between the airport officials and the man, most people agreed that Nigeria tries to take one step forward but somehow manages to run backwards at the same time. If it’s only the shopping bag they need they should sell the bag at the entrance of the airport so we can all bring our items from town, which would be much cheaper, and be granted entry with them. The entire point of the duty free is to be able to buy last minute things and items that ordinary would not be allowed through airport security, but in Abuja, even items bought in duty free are not allowed, unless you hold on to the shopping bag with your life, the bag is more important than the receipt that proves you got the items from duty free. Someone can buy a pen from them, collect a bag and I take it, but because of security I won’t have any unauthorized item to put in the bag, but the security personnel don’t seem aware of that fact.