By Chinedu Eze
The Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Saleh Dunoma has said that the agency has made significant efforts to fortify security at the airports and beef up intelligence.
Dunoma who made this known to journalists in Lagos at the weekend said with the efforts of the federal government, FAAN has developed efficient security infrastructure, which is being built on in response to new challenges and advancement in security equipment.
“Security is already in place, the only thing, is that once things happen you need to beef it up to a certain level above what we already have on ground. Such measures have been put in place. All the airports have been advised through a circular that they should improve security intelligence in all the airports, especially on the landside,” he said.
Dunoma said FAAN is developing intelligence, which has become effective tool in result-oriented security apparatus, noting that intelligence has been part of the security system together with hi-tech and ever advancing security equipment. He pointed out that the agency had ensured effective security coverage of the airports over the years.
“Intelligence has always been there and hi-tech is a thing that is very dynamic; there are always changes; there are always new technologies that we need to adapt, but I want to assure you that we already have some technologies we have deployed and these are being used by our security personnel at the airports to make sure that as you move around they are there watching you.
“From time to time we improve on what we have as technology gets updated. Intelligence gathering is a normal thing; we have personnel doing that and analysis is also very important. Once it is analysed we share this intelligence with security agencies around the airports to make sure they take necessary actions as dictated by the analysis.” Dunoma said.
He said security personnel in FAAN and support security operatives undergo continuous training to ensure that they are fit and updated to effectively carry out their responsibilities.
Dunoma also spoke on the fears of insider threat and explained that the agency profiles workers who have access to the sensitive areas of the airport, including the airside and said that every six months the on-duty cards (ODC) is renewed and before the renewal the agency carries out background checks of its personnel and that of other workers to ensure that every person with the card passes security screening.
“There are a lot of efforts that have been put in by various security agencies and the federal government to ensure that our airports are secure. We have never disputed the possibility of insider threat. As people working for you, you cannot rule out the issue, but what we do in order to forestall that is that anybody that comes and wants to access any part of the airports, whether staff, personnel from government agencies or workers of our concessionaires, must go through some checks before we access them on-duty cards.
“We subject them to background checks, especially if they are staff. This is the key and once we found you wanting we deny you the access and we send message to your agency and we do this periodically. Once we give you ODC and you want to renew it after six months, we carry out another background check. Through this we are able to check insider threat. And if we get a report of any questionable character at the airport, we make sure we get the person out,” he also said.
Dunoma pledged that the agency would continue to ensure that the airports are protected and that the lives of passengers and other airport users are secured.
Meanwhile, the management FAAN has called on all airport users, especially passengers and airline operators, to be security conscious at airports, following the spate of recent security breaches, including bomb blasts, at some airports around the world.
The agency advised passengers not to accept any luggage from anyone and to report any suspicious movements or behaviour immediately to aviation security personnel in the terminals.
It said adequate security measures have been put in place at all Nigerian airports, to forestall any form of security breach, including the installation of 3D screening machines, metal detectors and CCTV cameras.
Apart from the statutory security and safety measures already in place at the airports, FAAN said sniffer dogs and members of the Bomb Detection Unit of the Nigerian Police Force have also been deployed at the airports, to complement the effort of our aviation security personnel at the security screening points.
In spite of these heightened security measures, passenger facilitation at all our airports has also been enhanced by the installation of more modern and bigger conveyor belts and metal walk-through detectors. Airport terminals have also been expanded and modernised to provide better ambience and more space for passenger comfort.
As the sallah holiday approaches, the Authority also wishes to advise air passengers to make early arrangements for their travels and to leave home early on their travel dates, in order to complete their boarding facilities in good time.