Security As Major Concern for Nigeria's Air Transport

| February 15, 2013 | 0 Comments

Fear of insider threat, terror attacks are now redefining the security situation at Nigeria’s airports. Security experts aver their anxieties over possible loopholes, but concerned authorities seem to be rising to the occasion.

Last week, two Nigerian passengers arrived the country with guns through the airport. One was arrested on his arrival with Delta Air Lines; the other was arrested at the domestic terminal on his way from Lagos to Port Harcourt. Two of them arrived from the United States to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.

The two when interrogated by security agencies said that they acquired the guns to protect themselves while holidaying in Nigeria. The one who arrived with Delta Air Lines said that the gun was duly checked in for him at the airport in the US with the consent of the Aviation Security (AVSEC).

THISDAY learnt that these two Nigerians decided to bring the guns to the country because of the impression gleaned from international reports that Nigeria was extremely unsafe due to terror activities, kidnapping and armed robbery in most part of the country; so they decided to protect themselves.

THISDAY also learnt that many Nigerians overseas were unwilling to return to the country because of these fears so they decided to stay back even when the economy of their host countries are dimming as against the burgeoning Nigeria’s economy where opportunities are rising.

These negative security reports heighten the fears that the airports may be unsafe as well. But since terror attacks started in Nigeria the airports have been insulated because of the action taken by the Federal Government to fortify the airports with security operatives from different agencies and to introduce CCTV and other security equipment at most of the airports.

But aviation security experts say that more still needs to be done. The CEO of Century Security and Safety, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd) told THISDAY that most airports in Nigeria, including the Lagos airport, are located within complicated road network and uncontrolled urban developed areas, which leads to regular incursion by people who have nothing to do with airport activities, including miscreants and possibly anti-progress elements.

“And because the airport perimeter fences are very porous, there could be insider threats because of insufficient background checks on airport staff working inside the airport restricted areas,” Ojikutu warned.

He alleged that in spite of the incessant acts of violence from Nigerian home grown terrorists, government security agencies at the airports, including that of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) have “not developed known lists to put those who could be threats to civil aviation on watch list or no fly list.”

“Modern airport security is based on profiling of passengers and staff, not necessarily on access control or checkpoint screening. Too much dependence on checkpoint screening allowed the 9/11 in the US to happen and the passenger rage on the Arik flight from Maiduguri to Abuja last year to also happen,” Ojikutu noted.

Also, industry security expert and CEO of Avscon Securities Limited, Bayo Babatunde, recommended urgent and continuous training of aviation personnel, provision of high tech equipment and pre-emptive intelligence reports and investigation as proactive measures to ensure continued protection of Nigeria’s airports.







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