The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has in continuation of its investigation into the seizure of 2.76 kilogramme of a substance suspected to be cocaine by United Kingdom Border Force at Heathrow Airport, London, on Monday, apprehended an Arik Air staff, Ikechukwu Chibuzor Oliver.
Oliver, 35, who works as a catering loader, was found to have subverted airport security in Lagos by concealing cocaine in catering supplies.
Preliminary investigation revealed that both Oliver and Chika Egwu Udensi, who was arrested for being in possession of the cocaine in London, which the NDLEA on Tuesday put its street value at £350,000 (N105m), were infiltrated by a suspected drug cartel.
Oliver told NDLEA investigators that he was lured into the illicit drug business by Udensi.
“It was Chika (Udensi) that introduced me into the drug deal. Whenever Chika gives me the drug, I will hide it in catering supplies. Chika knows where to collect the drug inside the flight. They pay me four hundred thousand naira (N400,000) per bag.
“I was expecting 1.2 million naira for the three bags that I smuggled into the aircraft”, Oliver stated.
The suspect, who claims to be an indigene of Isialagwa North Local Government Area of Abia State, is a graduate of Business Administration and was employed by Arik Air in 2009.
Meanwhile, the NDLEA Chairman/Chief Executive, Ahmadu Giade has directed that henceforth, all airport workers must be thoroughly screened.
“The agency has taken drastic measures to avert infiltration of airport workers by criminal syndicates. Airline officials and airport workers shall be subjected to comprehensive search. The NDLEA will resist any act capable of undermining security at all entry and exit points”, he said.
He also said that all catering trucks, luggage trucks, aviation fuel tankers, machines and personnel whose duty directly or indirectly relates to tarmac and flight operations, would be subjected to full screening.
As part of its investigation, the NDLEA said its operatives had searched the rented apartment of Mr. Udensi in Ejigbo, a Lagos suburb, where he lives with his mother and siblings. His wife and children are based in Canada.
The NDLEA also said that Mr. Udensi’s Range Rover, which had been impounded and was parked at the airline’s premises, had been moved to the agency’s office as exhibit.