lSays no security surveillance at airports
lWe’ve only 14 sniffer dogs in Lagos, none for Kano— NDLEA
lScanners at Kano airport not configured to detect drugs— FAAN
By Henry Umoru
ABUJA— The Senate was, yesterday, told that two foreign airlines, Egypt and Ethiopian Airlines, were involved in running drug cartels at Nigeria’s international airports.
The Senate was also intimated of the fact that the nation’s airports lacked security surveillance that would help checkmate the activities of drug cartel, which specialises in hiding hard drugs in travellers’ bags.
The disclosure was made, yesterday in Abuja by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, when she appeared before the Senator Kabiru Gaya, (APC, Kano South) led Senate Ad-hoc Committee set up to look into the circumstances that led to the arrest of Zainab Aliyu in Saudi Arabia in December last year.
Erewa said: “We are talking about scanners and customs; the thing is, are scanners at our airports even working? There is virtually no security surveillance in our airports.
“In moving forward, we just have to forget about blame game but work to ensure that we have proper security surveillance at our airports, CCTV cameras and all that.”
Dabiri-Erewa, who indicted Ethiopian and Egyptian airlines over the lapses that led to the arrest of Zainab and Ibrahim said further: “Zainab and Ibrahim’s cases were an insiders job. There are people in there that are experts in doing this to other people’s bags. So where are they and who are they?
“To start with, the airlines, I am sorry to say, in most cases we investigated, only two airlines have been involved, Ethiopian Air and Egypt Air, never Bellview, never Saudi Air, never KABO, never Emirates, no other airline.
“All the cases have either been Ethiopian Airline or Egypt Airline. So, those two airlines have to ensure compulsory baggage identification, everybody going on that route, you must ensure every passenger identifies his or her bag.
“If they don’t do that, don’t carry those bags. There is a cartel inside there working on these things.”
Erewa challenges NDLEA
Erewa, who challenged National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, and the judiciary to bring to book others who have committed similar offences, however, said there must be justice and with no exception.
“We have to thank NDLEA for going deep into this matter working with the father of Zainab to ensure this is done. I believe that this is something that will ginger all of us so that innocent people will not continue to suffer,” she added.
Scanners at Aminu Kano airport not configured to detect drugs
Also speaking, Chief Security Officer of Federal Airports Authority, FAAN, Mr. El-Yakub Lamir, told the senators that scanners at Aminu Kano International Airport were not configured to detect drugs.
He also told the committee that there were 15 security agents involved in checking passengers’ luggage at the point of entry and exit, but noted that the number had been reduced due to public complaints.
We’ve only 14 sniffer dogs in Lagos —NDLEA
On his part, representative of the Chairman of NDLEA, Mr. Mustapha Abdallah, told the committee that their German-trained sniffer dogs were few in number.
He said: “Throughout the federation, NDLEA only has 14 sniffer dogs stationed in Lagos and we don’t even have one to detect drugs at Aminu Kano International Airport at all.”
Senate tasks NDLEA on sniffer dogs
In his remarks, Chairman of the Adhoc Committee, Senator Kabiru Gaya, charged officials of NDLEA to increase the number of sniffer dogs in all the international airports across the country.
Gaya also directed officials of FAAN to upgrade the scanners in the nation’s airports to nip in the bud issues of hard drugs.
He, however, commended Zainab’s father for providing the information on the arrest of his daughter by Saudi Arabia law enforcement agencies through the social media from where the Federal Government got wind of the arrest.
Gaya at the end of the day, assured that as soon as the committee rounds off its investigation, it would submit its report to the Senate.