The Federal Government has given orders for new and sophisticated scanners to be procured and installed at international airports across the country.
Sources privy to the development told The PUNCH on Wednesday that it was part of efforts to curtail the rising cases of drug trafficking through the nation’s international airports.
“The Federal Government is doing something urgently concerning the issue of drugs and has given approval for the scanners that detect drugs to be brought into the country,” one of the sources told our correspondent.
Another source stated that some scanners had been donated by the British government and would be mounted at airports to replace the old ones as soon as possible.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency had raised the alarm over the increase in drug trafficking in recent times, and how creative traffickers had become in concealing such illicit products when travelling.
A former Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, had recently said scanners at some Nigerian airports were not working optimally enough to detect drugs.
Dabiri-Erewa had also alleged that some foreign airlines were running drug cartels in connivance with some Nigerians at international airports across the country.
The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on Elimination of Drug Abuse, Brig. Gen. Buba Marwa (retd.), had recently stated that the government planned to prevent the export and import of drugs, which he said had been killing many youths in the country.
He said Lagos airport had become one of the biggest entry and exit points for drugs in the country, and the trend, must be brought to an end.
The General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, however, said scanners at the airports were working.
“The scanners are not meant to detect drugs but they are working. The NDLEA is supposed to come up with equipment that can detect drugs but the ones we have are working and are able to check what they are supposed to check,” she said.
Aviation Security Expert, Group Capt. John Ojikutu, stated that apart from procuring the scanners, the Federal Government should also be concerned about the personnel of agencies that would handle it.
He said, “All the things happening now are not new; we have done it all before but it depends on the attitude of the people. We bought this same equipment in 1991/1992 when we had this same problem with drug traffickers at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport and within two weeks, it packed up and they were never replaced.
“We even had to reduce the number of checkpoints from six to two but the equipment didn’t last up to two weeks at the time. Everyone wants to be at the checkpoint to make money. Let the government buy the scanner but it should be concerned about the attitude of the people who will use it.
“It is one thing to buy it and another to maintain it, it is also not about the maintenance alone but for people who are going to work with it to have the attitude of working with it so that they can get the best results. There are people at the airports that will not want it to work.”