Security operatives at the domestic wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos have charged to court and secured conviction of a passenger who travelled on Ibom Air flight over false claim of losing his luggage during the flight.
The passenger was said to have boarded an Ibom Air Q10319 from Abuja to Lagos and on arrival in Lagos raised an alarm that one of his checked-in bags containing valuable items was missing.
According to the Chief Operating Officer of the airline, George Uriesi, following the claim and threat raised by the passenger on the airline counter, the airline launched an investigation.
The airline said its officers swung into action for proper tracking and it was confirmed that all bags were loaded on to the aircraft from Abuja.
Uriesi explained: “Due to the passenger’s complaint, constant calls, disturbance, verbal abuse and threat to the company about his alleged missing bag and valuables items (designer brand shoes and clothes) contained therein.
“We requested a replay of the CCTV footage of that day from Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), the managers of the Murtala Mohammed Airport Terminal 2 (MMA2) to ascertain what became of the bag.
“From the CCTV footage, it was discovered that the bag the passenger claimed to have been missing, was his checked-in bag. The CCTV footage showed when the passenger picked up the bag from the conveyor belt, with a bag tag on it.
“He proceeded to the restroom where he removed the bag tag from the bag in order to escape the waiting Ibom Air Security Baggage Reconciliation Team, who would have retrieved our baggage claim tag from him, and went straight to the Ibom Air counter, where he raised a false alarm about his alleged missing checked baggage.”
The airline also explained that when it was established that there was no missing bag and that the passenger was dubious in his claim, the case was reported to the terminal’s aviation security and police where he was thereafter invited to the office for further investigation and resolution of the issue.
“Upon his arrival, he insisted that his bag was missing and was handed over to the security agencies where he made his statement. When confronted with the CCTV footage, he broke down and confessed to the crime, it was revealed,” Uriesi explained.
He said the passenger was charged to court for the offense punishable under section 168 (d) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State of Nigeria, 2015 and the accused pleaded guilty to the charge and showed remorse for his actions and promised not to repeat them again.
He was convicted with an option of fine.
The Ibom Air Chief Operating Officer said that the update on the incident was “to deter unscrupulous elements who are hell-bent on tarnishing the image of airline operators while seeking illegitimate gain.
“We would further like to assure our highly valued passengers of our continuous strive for excellence and the safety and security of our passengers and their checked baggage in our care.”
Unscrupulous persons have been caught in flights engaging in illicit activities to make money at the expense of airlines or passengers.
In the last few years there have been incidents of passengers pilfering and stealing money from other passengers’ luggage in the overhead locker during flights or from the pockets of other passengers.
In August 11 2012, flight crew of Nigeria’s major carrier, Arik Air, were vindicated over constant allegations of stealing passengers money and other valuables, when a passenger was caught stealing another passenger’s N200, 000 cash during a flight
The male passenger, who was seated in the business class cabin with his victim on flight W3 162 ABV- LOS, Abuja to Lagos, was said to have ransacked his neighbour’s bag on seat 3C and taken the N200, 000, during which process he was sighted by another passenger, who immediately asked the victim to check his bag.