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Lagos Int’l Airport is Epicentre of Drug Trafficking in Nigeria—NDLEA

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Mr Buba Marwa, has described the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos as the epicentre of drug trafficking in Nigeria.

Mr Marwa, while speaking on Thursday, said this is based on the volume of drugs seized at the Lagos international airport since the beginning of the year.

He said, “Murtala Mohammed International Airport remains the epicentre of the spectacular seizures, including what stands today as the singular biggest seizure from an individual in 15 years, which was 26.840kg of cocaine smuggled from Brazil in January; 24.05 kg of heroin in April; 27.95 kg of cocaine in May, and 26.15kg of heroin in May.”

Mr Marwa, who was a guest at the Presidential Villa in Abuja today for the weekly briefings coordinated by Nigeria’s Presidential Media Team, stated that between January 25 and October 15, more than 2.7 million kilograms of illicit drugs have been seized by the operatives of the agency.

The NDLEA boss said the agency was working on a bill that will prescribe harsher penalties for drug traffickers in the country.

Mr Marwa said NDLEA was seeking a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of between 25 years and life sentences for anyone caught by its operatives indulging in drugs activities.

“As of October 15, the agency has recorded the following: 9, 355 arrested traffickers, including six drug barons, over 5,000 drug offences cases filed in court, over N100 billion worth of drugs and cash recovered, more than 2.7 million kilograms of assorted illicit drugs were seized in 10 months, 5,579 drug users were counselled and rehabilitated by NDLEA, a figure that gives a fair balance between our drug control and drug demand efforts,” Mr Marwa said.

The drug enforcement agency in recent months has moved to strengthen the war against drug abuse and trafficking with the addition of hundreds of newly trained narcotic assistants to the workforce of the agency.

It graduated Narcotic Assistants Course 3 of 2021, which is the largest of the cadre and the first-ever course in over 25 years.

To further signpost the agency’s efforts towards the War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) campaign aimed at the total eradication of illicit drugs and their effects in Nigeria, Mr Marwa noted that the country is prepared and determined to go after the assets of drug traffickers and barons in any part of the country.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Travel/Tourism

FG Lifts Suspension on Emirates Airlines

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Emirates extends baggage allowance

By Adedapo Adesanya

The federal government has lifted the ban it placed on Emirates Airlines from flying into Nigeria without conditions.

This was disclosed over the weekend by the Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, in Abuja in a statement signed by Mr James Odaudu, the Director of Public Affairs in the  Ministry of Aviation.

Business Post had reported that the federal government barred Emirates from flying into Nigeria over discriminatory policies on Nigerians as regards COVID-19 protocols by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

According to Mr Sirika, the move came in response to the yearnings of Nigerian travellers and after painstaking negotiations with the UAE, the Emirates Airlines home country.

The Minister further said that the UAE had also removed all travel restrictions on Nigerians.

“We have received communication from UAE removing some of the conditions of travel of which we had concerns about. Having done so, we feel we should lift the ban on the suspension of Emirates Airlines.

“All the impediments on Emirates have been lifted and that the airline can now operate in Nigeria,” he said.

Mr Sirika lauded the understanding of Nigerians in spite of the hardships experienced as a result of the spat between the two countries.

Also speaking, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyema, noted that Nigeria recognised that UAE had a responsibility to protect the lives of its citizens.

He added that whatever measures the UAE had taken was for the best interest of her citizens.

He said that the negotiation that led to the renewed relationship was a balanced one and was a win-win for both countries.

Mr Onyema, who reiterated that though Nigeria had always had an excellent relationship with UAE, added that the negotiations had made the relationship even stronger.

On his part, the National Incidence Manager of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19, Mr Muktar Mohammed, commended the leadership provided by members of the Committee in ensuring resolution of the impasse.

Mr Mohammed also disclosed that the committee was watching closely the developments within the Southern African regions with regards to the discovery of a new variant of the virus.

He added that necessary measures to prevent its entrance into Nigeria would be done.

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Travel/Tourism

FAAN Moves to Curb Extortion at Airports With Stiffer Sanctions

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By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel

The Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mr Rabiu Yadudu, has said that the authority will execute stiffer sanctions against violators to curb the issue of extortion by airport officials.

Mr Yadudu disclosed this on Monday, November 8, 2021, in Abuja, after the authority`s management meeting, noting that such a miscreant act is detrimental to the integrity of the nation`s airports and Nigeria’s reliability.

The action also responded to the concerns raised by stakeholders, passengers, and others over extortion at airports from officials and some agencies.

He disclosed that, henceforth, any official caught would lose his or her On Duty Card (ODC), which means such personnel will no longer have the privilege to access the airport terminal.

“And we agreed that once you lose your ODC at the airport, you will not get it back. If it is a company, we will advise them to get a new staff. If it is an agency, we will advise them to get another personnel,” he said.

According to him, the management further agreed to instruct all personnel working in the airport to have their name boldly written on the chest of the uniform in such a way that it can be easily seen.

He said a new number would be disclosed soon where airport users can send messages of reports in any event of extortion or wrong action, providing the name of the violator and other credible information of the situation.

“If you see the name of the person (violator), put his name and the act of violation. We will get back to you through your number.

“The sanction will be permanent. This is just the beginning of our strategy. If anyone loses their job I, think they will not try evil again,” he said.

Mr Yadudu said that the implementation of these measures by the management is immediate as it plans to meet with the airports’ regional managers and the Head of Departments (HODs), after which they will meet with their stakeholders and then the agencies.

Recently, an American vlogger known as Sabbatical described the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos as “extremely corrupt” because some officials were asking him for bribes.

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Delta Airlines Resumes Direct Lagos-New York Flights

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Delta Airlines

By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel

A leading airline in domestic and international travel, Delta Airlines, has disclosed that it would be restoring its direct flight services from Lagos to the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York in December this year.

The Airline’s Commercial Director Africa, the Middle East, and India, Mr Jimmy Eichelgruen, who disclosed this in a statement, added that the resumption of the popular route was timely as the festive season is fast approaching.

According to him, the operation of the flight service between Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport would be nonstop and three times a week which is set to go underway from December 8, 2021.

Business Post understands that this is coming as United Airlines, on the other hand, is also resuming direct flights on the Lagos-Washington route on November 29.

According to Delta Airline’s official, “The flight DL214 would depart MMIA at 11:25 on December 8 and arrive at the New York-JFK Airport at 17:15, while its Flight DL215 would leave New York-JFK at 23:55 and arrive at the MMIA at 16:00 on December 9.”

He added that the re-entry will also connect Lagos to Atlanta daily with connections to 46 cities at Delta’s JFK hub.

“Pre-pandemic, the U.S. was one of the most popular destinations for Nigerians and we don’t see any signs of this slowing down.

“We are proud to be the only airline connecting Nigeria nonstop to two destinations in the United States, offering more choice and award-winning service whether travelling for business or leisure.

“Therefore, Delta has scheduled an Airbus A330-200 aircraft on the JFK route, which features a choice of Delta One, Delta Comfort, and Main Cabin seats,” he stated.

He added that personal seatback entertainment screens, along with on-demand Wi-Fi for purchase with free mobile messaging will be made available to passengers throughout their flight, while passengers on Delta One can pre-order their in-flight meal and enjoy complimentary lounge access before they fly

While this will reconnect with family and friends across the United States, Mr Eichelgruen said that the airline continually develops its layers of protection to ensure a safer travel experience, even amid the face of the pandemic.

To aid this, its integrated digital health credential platform, Delta FlyReady, already makes it possible for most customers travelling to the United States to upload a negative Covid-19 test result prior to travel, and vaccination credentials as well.

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