The Chairman and CEO of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission have accused Ethiopian Airlines and Egypt Air of operating drug cartels in Nigeria. Picture: AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene, File

Johannesburg – The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission have accused Ethiopian Air and Egypt Air of operating drug cartels in Nigeria, following the framing of several people who were arrested, and subsequently released, on allegations of drug smuggling, Nigeria’s Guardian newspaper reported.

“To start with the airlines: I am sorry to say, in most cases we investigated, only two airlines have been involved. They are Ethiopian Airlines and Egypt Air. Never Bellview, never Saudi Air, never KABO, never Emirates, no other airline,” said Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

“All the cases have either been Ethiopian Airlines or Egypt Airline. So those two airlines have to ensure compulsory baggage identification, everybody going on that route, you must ensure every passenger identifies their bags.”

Dabiri-Erewa added that Nigeria’s airports lacked the requisite security infrastructure to check the activities of these drug cartels, especially those that incriminate unsuspecting travellers.

“We are talking about scanners and customs. The thing is, are scanners at our airports even working? There is virtually no security surveillance in our airports,” said Dabiri-Erewa.

“In moving forward, we just have to forget about the blame game and work to ensure that we have proper security surveillance at our airports, CCTV cameras and all that.”

Dabiri-Erewa’s controversial comments came as she addressed an ad hoc committee in the capital Abuja on the plight of Zainab Habibu Aliyu.

Aliya was arrested earlier in the year by the Saudi police, after she and her family arrived in Jeddah, when a suitcase falsely labelled with her name was found to contain 2 000 packs of the painkiller Tramadol.

She was subsequently released four months later when the Nigerian authorities arrested those they believed were behind the set up, and managed to convince the Saudis of her innocence with the help of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.

African News Agency (ANA)