The Federal Government says it will henceforth penalise any airline whose staff collude with baggage handlers to tag names of innocent travelers on bags containing illicit drugs on out-bound flights.
Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa (rtd), Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on the Elimination of Drug Abuse, issued the warning on Thursday during a stakeholders’ meeting at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
Marwa said preliminary investigations had revealed that some innocent passengers have had luggage that did not belong to them tagged by airlines in their names, leading to their arrest by security agencies on arrival at their destinations.
He said: “What I said is real — that some airline staff and some persons collude to check in and tag passengers’ name on baggage that they are unaware of and which does not belong to them.
“We have a recent incident at the Kano Airport where a passenger was arrested in Saudi Arabia and he denied ownership of the bag.
“Through the Closed Circuit Television Camera at the Kano airport, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency officials discovered that he was innocent, as the bag was checked in and tagged in his name by an airline staff.
“Henceforth, such airlines will be penalised once we discover that such a thing happened on their flight.”
According to Marwa, the move is necessitated by the high number of Nigerians languishing in foreign jails as well as the recent execution of a Nigerian woman for drug trafficking in Saudi Arabia.
Marwa said the committee was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari to bring up recommendations that are sustainable for government to implement towards addressing the scourge of drug abuse in Nigeria.
He said though the drug abuse crisis was a huge challenge, it was surmountable, especially with the right political will being demonstrated by the present administration in bringing it to an end.
Marwa commended the various security agencies at the MMIA for their vigilance in preventing the importation and exportation of drugs by traffickers.