Charles Morrow has explained how he foiled attempted kidnap of former Nigerian
Minister of Transport in the second republic, Dr. Umaru Dikko, who was parceled
in a crate, in London en route to Nigeria in 1984.
the cargo terminal of Stansted Airport, 40 miles (64km) north of London, a
Nigerian diplomat was anxiously waiting for the crates to arrive. The day had
gone fairly normal until about 3pm. Then we had the handling agents come
through and say that there was a cargo due to go on a Nigerian Airways 707, but
the people delivering it didn’t want it manifested.
I went downstairs to see who they
were and what was happening. I met a guy who turned out to be a Nigerian
diplomat called Mr Edet. He showed me his passport and he said it was
diplomatic cargo. Being ignorant of such matters, I asked him what it was, and
he told me it was just documents and things. A missing person’s bulletin
alerted customs officials to the kidnapping No one on duty at Stansted had
dealt with a diplomatic bag before, and Mr Morrow went to check the procedure.
the passenger terminal with some startling news. There was an All Ports
Bulletin from Scotland Yard saying that a Nigerian had been kidnapped and it
was suspected he would be smuggled out of the country. The police had been
alerted by Mr Dikko’s secretary who had witnessed his abduction from a window
in the house. I just put two and two together. The classic customs approach is
not to look for the goods, you look for the space.
I can see the space which is these two crates, clearly big enough to get a man
inside. We’ve got a Nigerian Airways 707, which we don’t normally see. They
don’t want the crates manifested, so there would be no record of them having
gone through. And there was very little other cargo going on board the
aircraft. If you want to hide a tree, you hide it in the forest. You don’t
stick it out in the middle of Essex.”
said “But any cargo designated as a diplomatic bag is protected by the Vienna
Convention from being opened by customs officers “To qualify as a ‘diplomatic
bag’ they clearly had to be marked with the words ‘Diplomatic Bag’ and they had
to be accompanied by an accredited courier with the appropriate documentation.
arrive, and they opened the second crate. Inside they found an unconscious Mr
Dikko, and a very much awake Israeli anaesthetist. Mr Dikko was lying on his
back in the corner of the crate. He had no shirt on, he had a heart monitor on
him, and he had a tube in his throat to keep his airway open. No shoes and
socks and handcuffs around his ankles. The Israeli anaesthetist was in there,
clearly to keep him alive.”