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Nigeria Increases Surveillance at Airports, Allays Fears of Incursion By Bandits

The federal government has increased surveillance and also deployed more personnel and equipment to the nation’s airports to prevent incursions into the facilities by unauthorised persons and criminals. This was

The federal government has increased surveillance and also deployed more personnel and equipment to the nation’s airports to prevent incursions into the facilities by unauthorised persons and criminals.

This was disclosed by the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Captain Rabiu Yadudu, who said between May and July this year, the security apparatus and personnel had foiled 187 attempted security breaches at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.

This was a confirmation that the security system has improved compared to the previous years.

Yadudu also disclosed that every airport under FAAN’s management has a security committee, which meets every week, pointing out that under emergency conditions, the committee ensure it meets every day until such threat was tackled and resolved.

Furthermore, Yadudu told THISDAY that FAAN has also embarked on sensitisation and effectively involved host communities and deployed personnel for intelligence gathering.

“They work with those at the airports and environs to ensure that any security threat is envisaged and pre-emptively eliminated,” he said.

The FAAN boss also disclosed that to prevent the incident of kidnapping that happened at the Kaduna International Airport’s staff quarters earlier in the year, the agency was collaborating with the Nigeria Air Force and the Kaduna state government to ensure that there are no security breaches at the airport.

“In order to prevent what happened about two years ago at the Lagos airport, we did a very thorough risk assessment and what we found out prompted us to enhance security, increase the heights of the fence, improve on the sensitisation generally. “What we do, apart from our increased surveillance, training and equipment, is sensitisation because even people working within the airport environment need to be more sensitised. We get reports and our personnel have increased their surveillance.

“A lot of people have been apprehended for attempted security breach at our airports, including Lagos. Between May and July, the security apparatus had foiled 187 attempts and this shows that our airport system is really working.

“We just installed brand new x-ray machines at the Lagos airport recently. We installed about 15 at the Lagos airport alone and more will still be installed. Even, the walk-in machines, we have new machines installed there. We also deployed L3 scanning machines. We have networks working with the host communities. A lot of what we do is very discreet,” he said.

Speaking on how to ensure that there is no security breach at the airports, aviation security experts and former Commandant of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, Group Captain John Ojikutu, told THISDAY that intelligence gathering was very critical.

“How much information does FAAN and other aviation operators have on those on national security watch lists or no fly lists who could or are threats to civil aviation? FAAN and other operators need these to update their various security programmes.

“Secondly, at MMA in particular with over 23km perimeter fences and where these fences are used as part of public and private buildings or fences, there is need to build a secondary fences as security fences to meet the basic requirements of Document 8973 that demands six meters distances from the perimeter fences to any public and private buildings, infrastructure and roads outside the airport,” Ojikutu said.

He noted that much of the length of the airport perimeter has been so abused since 2008, when the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) did recommend that no matter how much enhancement is given to the perimeter fence, it could not achieve the desired result in aviation security.

“Therefore, a secondary fence was recommended which we have failed in 13 year to implement. Thirdly, we need to review the airport security management programme and procedures. Moreover, how often or when last did we review them to meet the challenges of the current threats?

“Which forces have we prepared for crisis management in the event of serious occurrences of any at the airports and what is the planned time of reaction? Lastly, there are about six government security agencies in the airport; in the event of serious insecurity occurrence in crisis that needs to be controlled, who is in charge of command and control these multiple agencies?” he asked.

Ojikutu also noted that six government security agencies in the airport carry guns and are under different command and control structures, saying presently, FAAN security outfits are being considered too to be carrying guns as, “a chaotic situation is building up at the airports if the responsible authorities are not thinking seriously about a unified control and management.”

Chinedu Eze

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