22nd May, 2013
Hand luggage of cabin crew in Nigeria are hardly checked at airports because airline staff are expected to be upright, sources said on Wednesday, a day after an Arik Air hostess was arrested in London for drug trafficking.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, said Temitayo Olubunmi Daramola was arrested at Heathrow Airport in London on Tuesday with six kilogrammes of cocaine, while Delita Abibimgbi was apprehended for being in possession of 60 packets of cigarettes.
An airport source told our correspondent that the handbags of cabin crew are hardly checked at Nigerian airports because of the nature of their profession.
“They have a drug section at airports. They are meant to be people of high standards and integrity. They are also not supposed to have anything to with hard drugs before recruitment,” an airport source said on Wednesday.
The source said cabin crew just come to the airport and move into the plane with NDLEA assuming that they cannot smuggle hard drugs.
“On very few occasions are they checked. Only their big bags are checked. Their hand bags are not checked. They just come to the airport and travel,” another source said. A source who was on duty when the Arik Air plane left said the hand luggage of all the cabin crew were not checked.
“The plane left late into the night and their luggage were not checked. Most international flights leave late into the night and most people who are meant to check them are exhausted at that time,” the source said.
Meanwhile, Arik Air issued a statement on Tuesday, saying it is investigating the incident.
“The attention of the management of Arik Air has been drawn to the detention in UK of two of its cabin crew members in connection with alleged possession of items suspected to be banned substances.
“Arik Air is co-operating fully with the UK authorities and all other concerned agencies in their investigations,” said Adebanji Ola, Arik Air Public Relations and Communications Manager.
Ola said Arik Air remains committed to the fight against drug and illicit substances trafficking and “will not tolerate the use of any of its aircraft or crew for the courier of banned items and substances.”
He said Arik Air carries out very stringent checks on all members of staff and its travelling guests ahead of all flights.
“It (Arik Air) will continue to focus its attention on measures to prevent the possibility of any future similar incidents.
“Arik Air is a responsible Nigerian company always seeking to maintain and uphold the integrity and proud reputation of the nation,” Ola said.
NDLEA Head of Public Affairs, Mitchell Ofoyeju, did not return our call at press time as we sought more clarifications over the incident and over the fact that cabin crew are not checked.