IGP, Mohammed Abubakar
Despite the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN’s) determination to abide by the international best practices in airport safety, there are noticeable loopholes at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, which lacks any bulwark before access to the terminals.
However, since terrorism gained a sad reality in Nigeria, the nation’s airports have been spared due to extra vigilance of security operatives, THISDAY has learnt.
Observing activities at the airport one could notice that the Aviation Security officials who man the gates lose concentration too often and do not carry out thorough search of passengers, especially after they have worked for over four hours in succession.
THISDAY findings revealed that the operatives lack the skills and weapons to overcome any passenger or passengers who may force their way into the terminal and cause any havoc.
There is easy movement of luggage without checks before accessing the terminals and at peak hours, the security operatives are overwhelmed by crowding passengers and unchecked movement of touts who are ubiquitous and could constitute a danger to safety.
In terror-conscious countries like Egypt and Ethiopia there are X-ray machines located at the entrance of the airport terminal, which every passenger must pass his luggage through and the passenger must go through a scanner and this include those who intend to travel and others.
This, analysts believe, should also be adopted in Nigeria following the wake of terrorism in the country, especially at the international airport terminals.
FAAN recently deployed more security at the four operational international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt with the introduction of sniffer dogs and anti-terrorism squads in order to enhance safety and security at these airports. But it has to be noted that although it would be difficult to take bombs into the aircraft in any of Nigeria’s airports, terrorists can score a tragic victory by unleashing violence at the terminals.
Any occurrence of bombing at any part of the airport will drastically damage the image of Nigeria.
FAAN said the measure of reinforcing security would be extended to the other airports in the country later, but instead of later it must be done now.
“A comprehensive audit of security and surveillance has been conducted on aircraft, terminals and security personnel to align them to standards in the industry. The airport security personnel have been trained in crowd control, body search and other specialised areas, while undercover surveillance is conducted by plain clothes crack team,” the General Manager, Corporate Communication of the agency, Yakubu Dati said.
He also said that at present, all Nigerian airports have a full complement of modern security equipment, hand-held metal detectors, CCTV cameras, x-ray screening machines to the 3D scanning machines.
“This is in addition to 24-hour security patrol on the airside by the aviation security personnel and the presence of Police Bomb Disposal Units in the terminals.”
But passengers and other airport users must be checked at the entrance of the airport terminals without which the airport terminals remain porous.