National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and the Nigeria Immigration Service have intensified efforts to check movement of aliens and drugs aboard private aircraft, SUNDAY PUNCH, has learnt.
The agencies said the move became necessary due to the spate of insecurity in the country.
The Federal Government had on May 12, 2013, said illegal consignments, cash in local and foreign currencies, and fugitives were being smuggled “on daily basis” in and out of the country aboard private jets.
The Coordinating Information and Communications Manager for aviation agencies, Mr. Yakubu Dati, told journalists that an order for the declaration of passenger manifest – a document containing details of all persons aboard the plane – was necessary to check the abuse of the use of private and chartered jets.
Speaking to our correspondent on the telephone on Friday, the Head, Public Affairs, NDLEA, Mitchell Ofoyeju, said although drugs had not been found on private jets, it was however common on commercial carriers.
“On chartered planes with passengers, we do make arrests from time to time. There is no point fighting the drug war, if we don’t do it, because all the drug barons will start to buy private jets to have their criminality unhindered. Our focus is on both private and public flights. We search everybody.
“The NDLEA Act is so wide that we can search any aircraft, pilot, crew members and diplomats; we have the powers. When Olusegun Obasanjo was President, he set the precedent; when he was travelling, he would say ‘search me and everybody on my entourage.’ We already have that precedent, which is good for the country.”
In a separate interview, the Deputy Comptroller, Public Affairs, NIS, Ekpedeme King, said stipulated procedures had been followed on both commercial and private aircraft vessels.
“There are certain agencies that work together at the ports (air and sea); we complement each other. While you check the baggage, others check the passengers, and another checks the food items you’re moving with,” King said.