Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) officials have arrested a staff member of Arik Air for extorting a passenger at Lagos International Airport. Citing the solicitation of bribe from a passenger at the domestic wing of Murtala Mohammed International, FAAN has taken into custody a female employee of Arik Air after recent embarrassing online videos regarding passengers’ complaints on extortion act at the airport caught the attention of authorities.
What actually happened?
According to Henrietta Yakubu, General Manager, Corporate Affairs of FAAN, FAAN authorities had initiated the surveillance work ignited by recent online videos where travelers complained about extortion at every point at the Lagos airport. Following the investigation report, the staff of Arik Air was apprehended and handed over to the relevant agency to take appropriate action. FAAN said in its statement that the on-duty card of Arik Air staff had been withdrawn immediately, and now she would serve as an impediment to other bad eggs in the airport, confirming the extortion incidence.
The alleged staff was making use of coronavirus-related entry regulations to scam travelers upon arrival at the airport.
A few days before the airline staff was caught, an emergency meeting of FAAN management having the presence of MD/CE, Directors of Authority, Special Adviser to President on Ease of Doing Business, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, Airport Managers and Airport Chiefs of Security had taken place to discuss on the rising case of bribery troubling passengers and steps being taken to handle them. Following the meeting, FAAN had warned bribe-seeking workers at Nigeria’s airport to apprehend in case of finding anyone soliciting or demanding a bribe.
The meeting had governed the airport managers to properly sensitize stakeholders on upcoming development at the airport. It also concluded a marching order to bar bribe-seeking workers for life from working at the airport terminal if caught soliciting bribes. It also resolved that the airport and airline officials wear conspicuous nametags while on duty so as to curb the menace.
Not long days after multi-level strategies to devise for curbing bribery had been discussed, the staff of Arik Air became the first victim that resulted in withdrawal immediately on the grounds of extortion.
Airline’s reaction to this incident
As the arrest concerned Arik Air, the Nigerian carrier responded to investigate the incident in cooperation with federal procedures. A day after the incident, Arik Air has suspended the staff with immediate effect pending further investigations and has released a statement to support FAAN on its activity to rid the airport of this menace of corruption. The airline management will initiate its internal investigation on the extortion incident resulting in the custody of one of its staff members.
American Vlogger identified as Sabbatical had shared a viral video showcasing acts of indiscipline and corruption at Lagos airport where staff requested money at different points. The vlogger called the airport extremely corrupt and lamented its condition.
Other custody cases concerning Arik Air
Arik Air is no stranger to having its staff caught for several reasons. In February 2015, a few Arik Air staff were arrested for siphoning jet Al fuel from Arik airplane, threatening the safety and security of the airline. The alleged staff was handed over to airport police for adequate prosecution following the fuel stealing act.
Another such incident concerns the arrest of an Arik Air cabin crew member in connection with alleged peddling substances suspected to be cocaine weighing 2.7 kilograms at London Heathrow Airport.
About Murtala Muhammed International Airport
Murtala Muhammed International Airport is an international airport of Nigeria serving Ikeja, Lagos, and Lekki built by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation. Travelers, both Nigerian and expatriates, have recently raised their voices to take drastic measures to purge corruption and corrupt workers at the airport due to incessant extortion and bribery requests from staff. MMIA Airport is suffering from poor management and an alarming rate of corruption.
About Arik Air
Arik Air is a Nigerian airline offering domestic, regional, and international flights to over 16 destinations, including Lagos, Ilorin, Kano, Owerri, Jos, Yola, Ibadan, etc. Headquartered at MMIA airport, West Africa’s leading airline was established in 2002. Arik Air has recently partnered with Qatar to add a string of additional international routes. The airline operates a fleet of 6 Boeing 737-700, 4 Boeing 737-800s, six Bombardier CRJs, and 3 Dash-8 Turboprops. Being a privately and wholly Nigerian-owned airline, Arik Air is the largest airline in West Africa.