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Three Lagos airport cleaners return lost luggage


Ola Lateef (left), Charles Obechie and Njideka Okafor

Ola Lateef (left), Charles Obechie and Njideka Okafor

Coming at a time Nigeria’s international image got some battering with the recent classification of the country as “fantastically corrupt” by the United Kingdom Prime Minister, David Cameron, the trio of Njideka Okafor, Charles Obechie and Ola Lateef, all cleaners at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, Lagos, on Monday night did the unexpected, when they found a bag and turned it in to security officials at the terminal.

The three cleaners, all staff of Lakewood Development Company, which is into janitorial services, were on duty at the Arrival wing of the airport when a Delta Airline flight landed from the United States of America on Monday night. After the departure of passengers from the terminal, they saw a luggage unattended to, pick it up and handed it over to security officials.

The bag, suspected to belong to one Henry Adeleye, when it was searched contained over a thousand US Dollars, Apple iPad, Sony camera, GTBank token, wallet with foreign ATM cards, old Nigerian passport, an American passport with registration number 212186012 and a yellow envelope containing some documents among others.

The items were then handed over to the AVSEC Officer-in-Charge, Mrs. F.O. Agada. Confirming the development, she said nothing incriminating was found in the bag though the passenger is yet to come forward to claim his luggage. “All attempts to reach the Adeleye has proved abortive as the contact details we got from the owner’s diary is a US phone number, which was not operative. The email address,, is also not valid.”

One of the cleaners, Charles Obechie, while speaking to The Guardian, said they decided to be responsible citizens by handing over the bag to airport officials because of the high emphasis their firm placed on integrity.

“The money is not ours and we don’t need the property. Moreover, the documents meant nothing to us but could mean the whole world to the passenger. What we would gain inflicting so much agony on the passenger would be temporary and I can’t stand living with the guilt,” he said.

When contacted, the Managing Director of Lakewood Development Company, Mr. Sam Nchezor, said they are elated with the conduct of their staff, which is receiving accolades from the aviation authorities.

“We are happy with the development. It shows that we are not all corrupt. Despite the severe hardship in the country, we still have honest Nigerians with good conscience. These are ordinary cleaners, who don’t have money. In fact, their salaries are not up to N20,000. If they had kept the bag to themselves and sold some of the items in it, each of them would have a minimum of N400,000. As an organization, we would celebrate and encourage them,” he said.

It would be recalled that in 2014, an airport cleaner, Josephine Agwu, found and returned N12 million left at the toilet. For her act, she was rewarded with several accolades and cash reward.

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