Drugs: CSO wants luggage card for pilgrims

By Abdallah el-Kurebe, Editor

The Independent Hajj Reporters, a civil society organisation that monitor and reports hajj activities has called for the introduction of pre-departure onshore luggage card for Nigeria pilgrims.

A statement jointly signed by its national coordinator Ibrahim Muhammed and Publicity Secretary, Abubakar Mahmoud made available to Newsdiaryonline Monday said the call was in view of recent discovery by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on tagging of luggage using airline passengers name by drug cartels.

“We urge the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) to introduce luggage cards to record the number of luggage each pilgrim carries and to record the content prior to departure to Saudi Arabia for Hajj or Umrah exercise,” the statement read.

It would be recalled that NDLEA was reported to have uncovered a cartel, which specialised in planting illicit drugs in travelers’ luggage.

The operation led to discovery and arrest of Zainab by Saudi Arabia Police on December 26, 2018 after arriving for Lesser Hajj.

According to the investigation, a copy of which was made available to journalists yesterday, a suspected cartel in the airport had planted the tramadol-bearing luggage on Zainab.

In the report, which has since been forwarded to the Consul-General in Jeddah for action, it was further established that Zainab who, like her mother and sister, had only a luggage, was not aware that a second bag had been labeled in her name.

The statement said ‘ the new devilish tricks employed by greedy drugs cartel demand immediate response to avoid further harm to the image of our country and killing of innocent soul’.

It also called for review of pre departure onshore pilgrims luggage screening to curtail possible intruding hole that can be exploits by ever vigilant and determined drug lords.

It said ‘ Such luggage cards will be given to each pilgrims at the point of screening to fill. Local pilgrims officers can be detailed to collate photocopy each and hands over to airline officers for record”. 

The groups also “call proper enlightenment to pilgrims on the new trends so as not to fall victim of such set-up during hajj exercise”.