By Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku
On the 16th October, 2017, I arrived at the Osubi Airstrip Warri in company of two of my colleagues, Kelly Ovie Umukoro and Assurance Erhisohwode, for an Arik Air flight to Abuja. While Ovie Assurance and Kelly Umukoro were travelling for a workshop in Abuja, I was to travel to Kano for another one as well. Arik had no direct flights from Benin to Abuja and Kano from Benin, and so we were directed to the Osubi airstrip.
Two days prior to that day, Ovie Assurance had booked the flight for Benin. Particulars of that flight ticket indicated that we would leave Warri on the 16th October 2017 by 3:45. Twenty four hours, later Arik sent the following message, captured in the screenshot:
Due to operational requirements your Arik Air flight W3 433/WARRI-ABUJA on 16OCT17 by 15:45hrs will now operate at 18:05hrs.
We regret any inconvenience caused.
For enquiries, please contact our call centre on +234-1-2799999 or email us at email@example.com.
To book your next flight and check-in online please visit www.arikair.com.
Shift Supervisor – Contact Centre
Contact Centre | Commercial
ARIK AIR LTD
Arik Air Aviation Centre
Murtala Muhammed Airport (Domestic Wing)
P.O. Box 10468, Ikeja
Res: +234 1 279 9999
And so off to Osubi Airstrip we went. At the check in counter, there were three clerks. My colleague and I decided to check-in with the one with the lady because there were not many customers there. But Assurance had to move to the next counter to check in because the check in counter activity was painfully slow. I stayed put. As it came to my turn, I handed over my receipt to the clerk, and made it clear to the Arik official who approached to weigh my luggage that I have a laptop computer in it. He said ok, and proceeded to hand it over to the other Arik official for scanning. The man scanning my luggage poked his head from the scanning department, told the clerk ‘ok’ whereupon the clerk handed me my boarding pass. At this time, Ovie Assurance had already picked up his boarding pass and was standing right behind me when I informed the Arik staff that I have a laptop in my luggage.
It is important at this staff to tell you why I told the Arik luggage man that I have a laptop in my luggage. I usually travel by road. As soon as I get to the bus park, I would inform the luggage man there that I have a laptop in my bag. Most would either tell you not to worry about it or that you should remove your laptop from your bag/luggage and keep it in your custody. That was what I expected of a seeming world class air company like Arik to do.
After I arrived Abuja, I waited at the conveyor, identified my luggage and left to check into my Hotel. We held a brief meeting on arrival at the hotel. After we were done my executive director called to say I should write a press release concerning the Pre-Global Forum on stolen Asset Recovery meeting we were planning for the 26th of October, 2017. I reached inside my bag but there was no laptop. The first person I called was my wife. She ransacked the house but there was no laptop there. I ran to my UNIBEN wassap group and placed a distress message, asking if anyone had any idea what procedure, and most importantly, a number I could call. One of them provided this number: 234 1 279 9999. I dialled it severally but I was kept on hold severally as well.
That same night, I wrote a report, titled STOLEN LAPTOP to Arik on the email provided by Arik: firstname.lastname@example.org
I did not get any response from Arik. The next day, 17th October, 2017 at exactly 400am, I embarked on my Kano trip. I arrive Kano 11:00am and by the time I was done with my workshop programme, I checked my email if there was any response from Arik but there was none. The next day, the 18th of October, 2017 as I prepared to check out of my hotel in Kano, I sent Arik another email:
There was still no response. I then called the previous number, 234 1 279 9999. The chap at the other end listened patiently, and offered me two numbers. The first did not respond but the other, Ibrahim/Festus asked me to come to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport to lodge my complaint. From Kano, I went to the Abuja airport and lodge my complaint to an Arik official, Sam Uloko, security staff, at exactly 1:41 who promised to send my complaint to his boss in Lagos.
To be thorough with this investigation, I have also reported to the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA. Both the FAAN and the NCAA took statements from me and promised to update me on their investigations. Arik did not take a statement from me. First, there was call from Adeniyi Adekala and he wanted to ascertain if indeed I had told the officials at the counter that I had a laptop in my luggage and it was eventually checked in. I confirmed that I did, and it was in the presence of my colleague, Assurance Ovie. According to Adekala, standard procedure is that after telling the Arik baggage staff that I have a laptop computer in my luggage, they would ascertain through their scanning process, call my attention to remove it. If I insisted on keeping it to be checked in, I would then write an undertaking to take responsibility. I assured Mr. Adekala that none of that happened. I also asked Mr. Adekala if they had a CCTV cam at the Osubi Airport. He said there was none.
The next call from a certain Mr. Efe of Arik at the Osubi airstrip has been trying to depart from the position taken by Mr. Adekala and tries to establish that I have no case. These are his suppositions:
- I have no way of proving, even with a CCTV cam, that I informed ANY staff of Arik that I had a laptop computer in my luggage as at when it was checked in. He said that all that the CCTV cam may reveal is me pointing at my bag/luggage.
- In the even that a CCTV cam is to be reviewed, I am the one to pay for and make a request for it.
- He wants me to come back to the Osubi airport with that same bag I travelled with, with all of its contents intact so that he can weigh it again to see if it tallies with the weight of my bag on the 16th October, 2017.
- And that it was not the baggage man I should have informed that I had a laptop in my luggage at the time it was being checked in.
I didn’t want to respond to any of the rubbish coming from Efe of Arik especially as very responsible institutions like the FAAN and the NCAA are already on top of the matter.
This is a copy of my complaint to the NCAA, Abuja
But because I need to set the records aright, let me begin with Mr. Efe’s suppositions by saying that I am a journalist and work as communications manager with one of Africa’s most prominent NGOs, the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice, ANEEJ. We work to fight corruption, promote gender equality, build capacity of local institutions in the oil and gas sectors to engender accountability and transparency. To that extent, I would not be one making frivolous statements and claims.
Let me attend to the issues raised by Mr. Efe Arik from the bottom. One, I do not know who in the world I should have informed about a laptop in my luggage if not the luggage staff who took my luggage for weighing. Two, why in the world would I be paying for and making a request for a CCTV cam, a necessary security gadget which ordinarily should help Arik to make its investigations into my complaint of theft by Arik? Three, if Arik at the Osubi Airstrip doubt my story, shouldn’t they be the ones to carry the burden of proof? And concerning whether indeed I had a laptop in my luggage or not, perhaps Mr. Efe of Arik has a laptop, and that he cannot travel without the power cable? Well, let me tell Mr. Efe that the power cable of the stolen laptop was still in my bag after I discovered the theft. Reason I guess is that I put it in another compartment in the bag/luggage. And lastly, concerning reweighing my luggage: yes, I would love to do that but just as Arik appears to be doubting the credibility of my report, I doubt if there is anything this will achieve. Most of the items in that luggage are perishables – a shoe which I forgot somewhere, documents which I left behind after using them and other small stuff. That laptop, a HP, cost about N350, 000.00, and is extremely light. Therefore I do not think his attempt to discredit my story is silly to say the least. Either he is very naive or an accomplice and an accessory to the theft of my laptop. Either way, let Mr. Efe of Arik at the Osubi airstrip watch the video here, shot only five days ago in Asia, to get an idea of what transpired on that fateful day of 16th October 2017: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4976658/Baggage-handler-caught-rummaging-inside-personal-luggage.html, instead of trying to pick holes in my report. The Airline that caught this thief in the video carried out a sting operation. I suggest Arik rather carry out one as well instead of asking me to come and weigh a bag in their custody and from which my laptop computer was stolen.
Here is a video of a luggage staff pilfering passenger luggage
When the NCAA were taking my statement, they wanted to find out what the number on the tag on my luggage. It was hard at first to find it. Even though all the tags on the luggage of my colleagues are still intact mine had been ripped off as if somebody knows that with it, it would be easy to trace the last person who handled my luggage. However, we found the number on the tag with the help of officials at the Abuja airport. It is thus: w3936568.
The luggage tag on the left is for my colleague Assurance Erhisowode while that on the right is mine. The bar code number at the bottom has been peeled off.
With the theft of my laptop while I travelled with Arik Air, I have suffered emotionally. My work is suffering as well. That laptop belongs to my employer, ANEEJ, and was left in my custody on trust. I allowed Arik check it in because I believed that after the assurance from your staff that it was ok to check it in, all will be well. When the NCAA asked me the nature of redress I sought, I did not hesitate before telling them that all I need now is that laptop. But that was before I found out with the theft of my laptop by an Arik staff, the security of all my social media networks – Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoomail, Gmail has been compromised and hacked.
Therefore, Arik must replace my missing laptop while travelling with them and compensate me.
I have briefed my lawyers.
Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku,
21st October, 2017.