The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency on Thursday said it had apprehended another employee of Arik Air, Ikechukwu Chibuzor Oliver, for his alleged involvement in the smuggling of 20kg cocaine to London on Monday.
According to the NDLEA, Oliver had confessed to the crime and had revealed that he charged N400,000 for each of the three bags containing the substance.
Oliver, Arik Air’s employee in the catering department, was said to have assisted Chika Egwu Udensi to get the cocaine on board the London-bound Flight W3101 on which Udensi arrived in the UK on Monday night.
Udensi, a senior flight attendant with the airline was arrested with the substance by the UK Border Force at the Heathrow Airport, London, shortly after the Airbus A330 landed.
The NDLEA, in a statement, said 35 years old Oliver, who is a catering loader at Arik, was found to have subverted airport security by concealing cocaine in catering supplies.
The statement by the anti-narcotics agency’s spokesman, Mitchell Ofoyeju, indicated that preliminary investigation had revealed that both Oliver and Udensi had been infiltrated by a suspected drug cartel.
Ofoyeju said Oliver had told narcotic investigators that he was brought into the illicit drug deal by Udensi.
The NDLEA’s statement quoted Oliver to have said, “It was Chika 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 N400,000 per bag. I was expecting N1.2m for the three bags that I smuggled into the aircraft.”
The statement added,“The 20kg of cocaine found with Chika in London was concealed within the construction of laptop bags. The quantity and estimated street value of the cocaine is over N100m.
“The latest Range Rover (Land Rover) car belonging to the prime suspect parked on the airline’s premises had been moved to the NDLEA office as exhibit.
“As part of investigation, the rented apartment of Chika on Pastor Ojediran Street Ejigbo, Lagos was searched by operatives of the NDLEA. He lives there with the mother and siblings while his wife and children are based in Canada.”
Oliver hails from the Isialagwa North Local Government Area of Abia State. The graduate of Business Administration was employed by Arik Air in 2009.
Meanwhile, the NDLEA Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Ahmadu Giade, has directed that, henceforth, all airport workers must be extensively screened.
Giade said, “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.”
The NDLEA boss stressed that all catering trucks, luggage trucks, aviation fuel tankers, machines and personnel whose duty directly or indirectly related to the tarmac and flight operations would be subjected to full screening.
Following Udensi’s arrest, operatives of the agency had on Wednesday besieged and occupied his Lagos house. The NDLEA stormed the house after they had interrogated pilots and flight attendants in the flight that left the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.