It was like a soap opera on Saturday night when the national team; Super Eagles’ much publicised trip to Lima, Peru, for an interrnational friendly was halted by the arrest of a drug suspect by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), aboard an Iberia Airliner in Lagos.
The Eagles led by Head Coach Stephen Keshi had flown into the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos on Saturday afternoon from Abuja with 18 players and officials for an 8pm flight to Madrid enroute Lima, Peru for the friendly international that will hold on Wednesday.
After passing through check in formalities with the Iberia airlines and other boarding routines with the all security agencies at the airport, the team was asked to proceed for boarding along with other passengers in the airline.
After about one hour the team and other passengers boarded the plane at about 8:30pm, and just as Iberians officials were asking all to sit down for the plane’s takeoff there was a sudden bedlam, as an official of the airline announced that NDLEA officials had asked that all paasengers of the airline which was Madrid bound must disembark for fresh security checks following the discovery of a drug courier in the aircraft.
By now it was getting to about 9:30, and by the time the fresh checking was complete on all passengers, it was exactly 10:20pm.
NDLEA officials then came into the aircraft with their sniffer dogs and spent another 30minutes checking the plane.
By now, a suspect whom they refused to give his name has been arrested and another suspect who left his international passport in the aircraft seat 4A, was on the run.
Effort to apprehend him proved abortive.
The airline then announced that the pilot of the plane has said that he could not fly again, due to international regulations, thus aborting the national team’s trip to Peru on Saturday night.
The players, officials and other passengers of the airline were then shepherded into buses and taken to hotels around Ikeja area of Lagos, the nation’s commercial nerve centre and the flight rescheduled for 9:30 am on Sunday.
Head Coach Stephen Keshi said the team has lost valuable time to prepare in Lima, with early arrival there for the friendly but urged the players and officials to see their ordeal as one of the sacrifices to make for the nation as international players.