NIGERIA: Pilfering of Luggage Resurfaces at Lagos Airport

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Pilfering of belongings of air travellers has returned in full force at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) has reported.

The development has left many victims with sour tales of how they lost valuables after arriving at the airport from various overseas countries.

The victims alleged that their belongings were tampered with during the process of bringing their baggage to the conveyor belts at the arrival hall of the airport.
According to them, any baggage not having padlocks stand the high risk of being pilfered by the ground staff of the aviation handling companies at the airport.
One of the victims, Mrs. Sarah Ashafa, lamented that her luggage had been tampered with at MMIA after a recent trip overseas.
Ashafa lamented that she lost many personal belongings at the airport on June 3 on her return from a trip to the US, saying that she had suffered a similar experience before.

“When my bags got to me through the conveyor belt, I discovered that one of the bags that had my underwear, shoes and other items had been torn open with many items missing.

“I was very embarrassed; why should they steal my pants along with my shoes and clothes. The authorities should do something about it because I know that this will be happening to other passengers. I believe it happened here in Lagos,” she said.

Another victim, Mr. Fred Uzo, who returned to Lagos on May 8, aboard a Delta Airlines flight from the US, also complained that he lost an expensive belt which he kept in an unlocked compartment of his luggage.
“I was amazed when I returned home to discover that the belt was gone. I later realised that I kept the belt in an unlocked compartment of my luggage.
“I was totally embarrassed because I didn’t realise that such crimes would still be taking place at the Lagos airport after all the measures put in place by the federal government.”
Uzo said he had thought that the era of luggage pilfering at the airport had ended, urging the authorities at the airport to step up security in the luggage area of the airport.

He said he was not aware that he ought to have reported the incident to officials of the airline he used or to other relevant authorities at the airport.
A staff of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO), who spoke on the development, said the management of the company was not aware that belongings of travellers were being tampered.

The worker, who pleaded anonymity because he was not authorised to comment on the issue, said no passenger had come forward to report the matter to the NAHCO management.

The official said if such ab incident occurred, the passenger had the right to report the matter to the airline he or she used for the trip.

He said: “Such unfortunate incident may not have happened at the point of arrival because the luggage may have been tampered with at the point of departure.”
According to him, any case of reported pilfering usually showed on the computer system of the airline, ground handlers and the security agencies involved in appropriate investigations to be taken.
“We advise the victim to formally report the incident either to the airline or the Consumer Protection Unit of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority at the airport.
“Once the case is reported, a copy of the report is electronically sent to the airline, ground handling company and agencies involved in scanning of luggage at the point of entry,” he said.

The official said the investigation would lead to the arrest of the culprit, promising that appropriate sanctions would always be taken against culprits.

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