The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has commenced an investigation into the operations of Arik Airlines after a member of its staff, air steward Chika Udensi, was arrested for possessing a 20 kilogram stash of cocaine that he had smuggled into Heathrow Airport in London.

Arik Air

On Tuesday, the NDLEA stated a “full scale”‎ investigation would unmask those behind the act.

The National Crime Agency of the United Kingdom notified the NDLEA of the arrest.

“We shall work closely with our international collaborators on the matter. Arik Airline will be sanctioned if found wanting,” Ahmadu Giade, the NDLEA Chairman, said.

Monday’s arrest would be the second time in two years a crew member of the airline would be arrested with substances suspected to be cocaine. In 2013, two crew members were arrested by the United Kingdom Border Force with a package of drugs with a street value estimated at £600,000 (about N190 million) inside a bus used to transport the air crew.

At that time, the suspects—two women aged 37 and 32—had arrived with an Arik Air flight from Lagos.

Mr. Giade said that the anti-narcotics agency would‎ invoke Section 25 of the NDLEA Act against Arik Airline. “The law refers to measures to include training of personnel, promotion of integrity of their personnel, submission of cargo manifests in advance, use of tamper-resistant, individually verifiable seals on containers and reporting to the Agency at the earliest opportunity all suspicious circumstances relating to drug trafficking."

He also stated that “Nigeria has a cordial working relationship with the United Kingdom in drug control. This has resulted in a drastic reduction in the number of arrests made in the United Kingdom from flights originating from Nigeria over the years.”

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