Louis Ibah

The Presidential Advisory Committee set up to curb the menace of illicit drugs abuse has accused international airlines of colluding with drug barons and security personnel to plant drugs in the baggage of unsuspecting passengers at Nigerian international airports.

The chairman of the committee, Brig. General Buba Marwa (rtd) at a stakeholders interactive session held at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, alleged the involvement of airlines, ground-handling staff and security working at the baggage check-in section of the airport of aiding and abetting drug trafficking at Nigerian airports.

He said airlines caught aiding drug trafficking will be sanctioned and made to pay a fine or penalty by the government.

Marwa said recent findings by the committee revealed that some Nigerians caught with luggage containing illicit drugs at some foreign airports were completely ignorant or innocent of the crime. Marwa alleged that such passengers had their names deliberately tagged on luggage stuffed with the drugs by airlines and ground-handling staff.

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Marwa said: “In Saudi Arabia for instance, the law stipulates death penalty for drug traffickers once you are caught. We have to get to the bottom of these cases where the airlines and the handling companies tag someone’s luggage with another person’s name and send it off with drugs because for innocent people to have their bags tagged for something they don’t carry; it’s very unfair.”

Marwa said recently the country was able to assist one citizen who was arrested with a luggage stuffed with drugs and tagged against his name and for which he knew nothing about to get justice abroad, but he declined to name the person and country.

“What saved this Nigerian was the CCTV camera in Kano airport that showed he knew nothing about the bag,” Marwa said.

Marwa who lamented the rise in drug abuse and trafficking by Nigerians said greater investments would be made to boost facilities at the airports to curb drug trafficking and that staff of drug law enforcement agencies will be rewarded effectively for assisting in the arrest of drug traffickers.