The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria FAAN, said on Sunday it has unravelled port rats behind the disappearance of passengers’ luggage at the Murtala Muhammed International airport in Lagos, southwest Nigeria.
FAAN said the mystery was lifted after the arrest of a member of the gang perpetuating the act, Mr Okereobode Chiwendu.
The 38-year old suspect was said to have been caught in the act on 2 September.
The agency said after the pilfering at the nation’s main airport generated a lot of controversy recently, the Crime and Investigation unit of FAAN’s Aviation Security Service (AVSEC) was put on the alert and an investigation was opened.
“The investigation got a major lead when AVSEC officials received a report of pilferage from Emirate Airlines on its flight of July 19, 2013 and CIB officials embarked on an inspection of the photo footage from the aircraft’s bulk hold’s closed circuit television (CCTV) showing the reported pilfering in progress.
“The suspect, Mr. Okere, an employee of Check Port Security (the official airline security company of Emirate Airlines) was identified in the footage, and apprehended. He later confessed to giving Mr. Oriola Afeez, a NAHCO staff, who is still at large as at press time, the permission to go ahead with pilfering on the parked aircraft, while Okeke gave him protection inside the aircraft bulk hold,” said Yakubu Dati, FAAN’s image maker.
Dati said the culprit confessed to aiding and abetting the NAHCO staff in removing an I-pad computer and other valuable items belonging to passengers which were sold and proceeds from the sale, in the sum of eight thousand naira, was given to him.
“This discovery has confirmed that pilfering gangs are mainly cargo handling agents and airline security officials who have been operating from inside parked aircraft, contrary to the wrong assumption that pilfering was done inside terminal,” Dati said.
Meanwhile, Mr Okereobode Chiwendu who was charged for conspiracy and stealing was on Friday sentenced to six month imprisonment concurrently, while Police officers are on the trail of the NAHCO staff involved.
“FAAN is assuring all travelling passengers of safety of lives and property throughout the nation’s airports,” Dati said.