FAAN Or NAHCO: Who Employed The Criminals Pilfering At MMA?

By Adeola Aderounmu

The theft of valuable and cherished personal belongings from the baggage of passengers arriving at the Murtala International Airport is a big deal.

It is time to call out the management of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the directors and management at Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Plc to answer questions on why travellers’ items continue to grow wings on a daily basis when they arrive at the International Airport, Ikeja.

Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos

Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos

One anonymous Mr. Lagbaja spoke on behalf of NAHCO when Premium Times made enquiries about the pilfering of baggage at Lagos airport. His comment was typical: no passenger had come forward to report the matter to NAHCO!

OK! We are doing so now. I am making a report on behalf of thousands of people who have complained about these criminal activities over the past decade.

The truth of the matter is that there are criminals working at the Murtala Mohammed Airport (MMA) and they are responsible for the theft of items from travellers’ bags daily.

Arik airlines spokesman Ola Adebanji said that missing items from aircraft was commonplace worldwide citing instances from the US. I think it would have been better for this man to keep quiet rather than exposing his ignorance on public relation management.

Then the NAHCO employee continued, our Mr. Lagbaja said that if such incident occurred, the passenger had the right to report the matter to the airline he or she used for the trip. “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”.

Why don’t people report the theft of their personal belongings that occurred before the baggage hits the conveyor belt? The answer is too simple. People don’t believe that reporting the thefts will bring back their belongings. Almost every traveller knows that it is no-brainer to tackle FAAN or NAHCO workers at the Airport on missing items.

The question and answer sessions that will go along with the reporting which may include making a police report can cause a fragile traveller to develop a heart attack. So, indeed nobody will be willing to make any report. No one has the time to drag issues with airport authority on missing items. It is different when the suitcases or baggage do not arrive. Then it’s normal to take up such cases with the concerned airline.



Somebody or some people at MMA, FAAN or NAHCO should be getting sacked if the seriousness of the matter is to be handled appropriately. The undeniable fact is that criminals open the baggage of travellers and they pick out items that now include hand-held computer tablets. These disgraceful acts take place usually between landing and when the bags hit the conveyor belts.

Some of my friends who visited Nigeria recently (this year 2014) had tales of woes to tell about the items that were stolen from their baggage. I am not talking about one person only; I am talking about a group of people whose items were ransacked between landing and the conveyor belts. Gifts bought for friends, family and even children went missing.

This week, I read how several passengers are also lamenting about their missing shoes, bags, gift items and other accessories that they thought should be saved in their travelling bags. The report was in the Premium Times of June 16 2014. How did criminals get on the employment services at such a sensitive place as the International Airport?

There are so many investigations that need to be done regarding these persistent criminal activities. For example, what is the connection between the length of time it takes for the baggage to hit the conveyor belt and the numbers of items/ goods stolen?

Are the long delays in delivering the baggage to the conveyor belts connected to the fact that these men and women who are off loading the aeroplane need so much time to open and pilfer travellers’ baggage?



Is it part of the employment contract that you must be sticky-or light-fingered to work at that department at the airport? Who takes away all the stolen items? Are the stolen items delivered or remitted to the bosses and directors and shared among all the “criminal” workers?

What is going on at MMA? What is going on at FAAN? What is going on at NAHCO? Who are we going to hold responsible for the missing items? The workers? The Directors? The Board?

When some of us complain about these things, we always hear some people say “noo o!!” that was before! Nobody is stealing again at the airports! We have heard similar stories before at the sea-port; we hear…noo o! No more port rats! Then importers started welding their cars and vehicles like armoured tanks before they hit the international waterways heading to Nigeria!

But the denials on the part of Nigerian airport authority or NAHCO are the usual lies! There are definitely still criminals working at MMA, just the same way the sea-port rats never left.

It is not acceptable when airline or airport officials state that these criminal activities are common around the world. There is a difference between lost and found items or forgotten items and the items that are deliberately removed from travellers’ bags by airport workers. The act of pilfering is not common around the world. In any case there can never be a good reason why criminals should be employed and allowed to remove things from our bags at MMA.

Are there cameras at the terminals to follow the arrival of aeroplanes at the terminals? Are there cameras to follow the progress of baggage until they hit the conveyor belts? At what point exactly do these “airport rats” have the courage to open bags and suitcases and remove items? Who is the head of this organised crime at the airport? Is it something that is approved by the directors of FAAN and NAHCO?

Someone heads the human resources department where these criminals were approved for employment. That person’s integrity is also at stake here. So also are the managers or directors in charge of landing and transportation of baggage from the aircrafts to the arrival hall.

Again, many people are too busy and do not have the time to bring about their cases to the appropriate authorities. This is because once the items are gone, there are no means to trace or find them. People are tired of the way things work in Nigeria. They don’t trust the system and they just “conform” and move on with their lives.

The severity of this painful experience of pilfering cannot be over emphasized. My friends lost so many valuables that they were almost crying when they narrated their stories. This cannot continue and this essay should not be treated as a rant. There is a need for action and I hope that the directors or board members who are tagged in this essay will find a reason to call an emergency meeting to address the embarrassment that the staffs of MMA/FAAN/NAHCO are causing them and their reputations.

Some of us have great difficulties to work out the functions of the various uniform people at the airport. We get totally confused by the several people doing the job meant for one computer or a simple machine!

We need answers (and not denials) from the management of both FAAN and NAHCO.

FAAN is a service organization statutorily charged to manage all commercial airports in Nigeria and to provide service to both passengers and airlines. Its managing director and chief executive at the corporate headquarters in Ikeja Engr Saleh Dunoma must ensure that stealing from passengers’ baggage ends immediately. He cannot claim to be new on the job.

Mr. Wendell Emeka Ogunedo is FAAN’s director of security services. Dear Mr. Ogunedo, how secured are our baggage when they arrived at the airport in Ikeja?

Hajia Salamatu Umar-Eluma is in charge of FAAN’s human resources. Ma, does your office run a background check on those people moving our baggage at the airport in Ikeja? Is it NAHCO’s fault that our things are stolen?

Barrister Ikechi Uko is the director of administration. Can he tell us how security measures will be administered to stop this mess? FAAN must work together with the other agencies at MMA to ensure that they put an immediate end to pilfering at MMA.

NAHCO’s mission is to be the leading service provider in the African market. Unfortunately all the core values of NAHCO are questionable with this permanent trend of stealing from passenger’s baggage. There is no integrity when bags are opened and things stolen from them. There is no respect for individuals when NAHCO workers steal from passengers.

The chairman of NAHCO Mr. Suleiman Yahyah must call his workers to order. Nigerians need to be sure that the stolen items are not ending up on his desks!

The vice-chairman is NAHCO is Mr. Denis Hasdenteufel. How is he working together with the chairman to ensure that criminals are not working for NAHCO AVIANCE?

Altogether there are about 12 directors at NAHCO. Their areas of responsibilities and job descriptions are other areas that would be of interest when some of us look for information on NAHCO’s website. It is clear however that NAHCO is responsible for aircraft handling, amongst other services that it provides at the airport.

An average traveller does not really know the interrelationship between FAAN and NAHCO or their terms of agreement. People just want to be sure that when they travel to Nigeria that their bags are not tampered with. As a people heading to Nigeria we don’t want to develop any panic or heart attack just because some thieves working for NAHCO or FAAN are going to steal our personal belongings or the gift items in our baggage.

Those who manage the Lagos Airport must stop living in denial. They should wake up; smell the coffee and live up to their responsibilities. What is important is for them to educate their workers. NAHCO for example must ensure that its core values do not exist only on papers, but in actions. By all or any means, those whom we entrust with our baggage must stop stealing our personal belongings.


The Day I Was Arrested At Frankfurt Airport

Adeola Aderounmu

I’d wanted to tell this story since December 2010 when I was arrested by the German Police at Frankfurt Airport.

Sonala’s article stating MMA as a metaphor of a Non-Governing Governance gave me the needed impetus.

I have a butterfly knife that I love so much that I always carry it with me. It serves as a utility tool. Last December I took it with me to Nigeria. Somehow it ended up in my backpack where I also have the basic things that my children need.

We left Nigeria on Dec. 28 after celebrating Christmas in Lagos.

We went through rigorous checks at MMA. They turned everything inside out and we even went through the scanners and all their cancer-inducing machines.

You can imagine my shock when I was stopped at Frankfurt the next morning and ordered to step aside. The police were called immediately and I was interrogated and made to give a written statement.

They found my butterfly knife in my bag. They have a functional scanner there in Frankfurt. Or maybe they are not looking at just the human physiology like our brethren back at MMA.

They told me that I could be required in the court of law and a notification will be sent to me about that. I have waited since December 2010 but it appears the case was not pursued further. Hopefully this essay will not stir it up again.

The officers took my knife and wanted to retain it as an exhibit. I guessed they will throw it away. I told them that I really cherished the knife and that it meant something to me. They were a bit surprised but respected my views.

They said I can only retain the knife on one condition. I have to go out of the waiting hall and check in at Lufthansa’s desk. To save my knife it became necessary for me to check in at a point of transit. I took one of our baggage with me, put the knife inside and checked it in.

Even though I had the status of a “potential terrorist” I was still allowed to exercise my rights and to choose what I wanted to do with my knife.

We had luck that there was ample time to our connecting flight. I was still able to fly with my family. They were waiting for me at another point but they could see me. The arrest was something I had to sort out alone since I was the one carrying the bag.

If a butterfly knife on the side pocket of a backpack cannot be detected at MMA, I could only imagine the possibility of a terrorist being able to blow up the entire airport in these days of micro- and nano-technologies.

I remembered one day in 2002 when my things were taken from me at MMA. I was not given any choice at all. They just “obtained” me like that. They took my things and I left Nigeria with such a sad experience. The story is the same today. When I leave Nigeria these days I travel light.

There are several sad things about MMA that Sonala didn’t mention. I trust that he wanted to save Nigeria from some serious embarrassment.
MMA should actually have been converted to a local airport altogether. On developmental scale, MMA is on the same level as Iyana Ipaja because Oshodi is far better these days.

There is nothing about MMA that fits into international standard. I was embarrassed that my family first’s visit to Nigeria took them through this point of entry. There was nothing to explain because they have read many of my essays.

The traffic in Lagos almost made us cry and the work rate of NEPA not only made us deaf temporarily, it also ensured that my kids found a special toy in Nigeria-the torchlight. How they loved it!

I have also wondered about the crowd at the airport. Is it possible to divert the crowd to Onikan, Adamasingba or National stadium so they can provide the spectatorship that our football games are longing for?

I was afraid I could be mishandle by the thousands of uniform men at MMA and that was the reason I didn’t take any picture at all. Too many angry faces looking for preys!

It is as if all the security men in Lagos are based at MMA. The variant of uniforms will make a good thesis for a post-graduate student.
Someone should take the offer so that the rest of us can understand why thousands of uniformed people are stationed at an overcrowded point like MMA. Is that the meaning of double wahala?

There are so many waste materials, big and small, different forms and shapes, electrical and others littering all the premises of the airport. The interior of the airport is too stuffy, hot, disorganized and haphazard. It pains the eyes.

It took more than 2½ hours for us to retrieve our luggage when we arrived that fateful evening that eventually turned to night at MMA. I had to tell my cousin to take my wife and children home while I waited for the remaining luggage. My brother in law it was who kept record of the time. I’m happy he didn’t faint in the waiting process.

There was one funny but sad situation also that same night.
One of our luggages was not on the major conveyor belt. We were told it could have been sent to the small or extra conveyor belt. Bu alas!
They can’t find the guy who has the key to the conveyor. It was a sort of crazy-looking conveyor that led directly from the outside to the inside and it is used for transporting wheel chairs and sorts into the main waiting hall. After a long wait, they found the guy with the key.

When we got back to our base in Europe my brother in-law politely told me that it has taken just 20 minutes since we arrived and we are already driving home. What was I supposed to say?

He didn’t have to tell me about the absence of crowd or uniformed people. He didn’t have to say the rest. I’ve been living with it for nearly a decade.

The level of security at MMA is appalling. The long wait and long queues are surely pretenses that someone or some people are working hard. It’s all nonsense. The things that take you 5 minutes at other airports around the world can take you several hours at MMA. If you have a heart disease or you are hypertensive you should either avoid MMA or take loads of medication with you.

The sad stories about MMA are inexhaustible.

I was also frustrated that I have to fill some forms as I entered Nigeria even though it state clearly on the top that it is for foreigners. And every time I gave the form back there was something I didn’t do right. I was turning brain-dead on the queues and I can’t believe that officer expected me to write my full address on that form. Who knows there the forms are heading?

As far as MMA is concerned it is a serious embarrassment to Nigeria. To call MMA a disaster or a disgrace is an understatement. It is not organized at all. No one should hope for a terror attack at that airport, the fatalities and consequences would be devastating. Let’s not imagine it. MMA is the worst airport I have been to. It is what you get when you have a Non-Governing Governance.

US Blames Security At Lagos Airports, Really?

By Adeola Aderounmu

The US should stop this blame game and focus on the matter at hand. The Nigerian terrorist travelled through two airports-Lagos and Amsterdam.

There must have been something the alleged terrorist did to beat the securities at these two airports. That should be the focus. In what ways was he ahead of both the Nigerian and the Dutch security systems? Trying to fault the Nigerian end is baseless and reckless.

Where was the US security during 9-11? May the souls of the departed continue to rest in peace. Should we blame the US security systems? No we don’t have to even though we know that everytime something goes wrong, someone should have thought better. Still each error provides a room for improvement and prevention of future re-occurence of the same error.

The US should be focussing on its embassy in Nigeria. How did they end up giving a juicy VISA to a suspected terrorist? And if the VISA was issued before he became a terror, what attempts were made to keep a TAB on him? (It appears the visa was obtained in UK)

The attention should be taken away from MMA even though I am not saying that MMA is perfect or tight. But that the guy went through Amsterdam Airport without beind detected is an indication that he was a step ahead.

Rather than a blame game, an international cooperation and multi-faceted investigation should be undertaken because this guy has travelled wide and far and probably has a links or networks that are unknown.

I am just concern about how much his father stole as a Minister or Bank Chief that may have contributed to the affluent live the boy lived as a student in UK. I am going to be devastated beyond words if my fears are confirmed that his father stole Nigeria’s money only for the boy to end up this way-wasting Nigeria’ Niger Delta Wealth or depositors’ fund in First Bank.

For us Nigerians, this is a national embarrassment and many of us are bracing up for the challenges and the implications for the days ahead. We are already struggling with a severely battered international image, to now top it with a terrorist act is the last thing we need for our country that has been denied a legitimate government since 2007.

Even as I write I am very angry with Nigerian thieves who say they are politicians. For the past 1 month we have no ruler as the fake president lies lifeless in Saudi Arabia and we are just sailing like people in a lost ship.

This act of terrorism is the last form of distraction that Nigeria needs right now as we have serious political problems to take care of. We are a nation in crisis.

Hopefully this may serve as a wake up call to the useless people in Aso rock and Abuja including the worthless lawmakers idlying away as the rest of us suffer the effects of fuel scarcity and prevalent poverty.