S’African Security Agencies to Meet with Nigerian

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Counterparts over Stowaway

Chinedu Eze
South Africa aviation security authority has said it would contact its Nigerian counterpart in furtherance of the investigation into the body of the stowaway discovered in the wheel-well of Arik Air flight, A330-200 at the Oliver Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg.

The body was discovered when the aircraft arrived at the maintenance facility of South Africa Airways Technical at the Airport where the aircraft was due for checks
THISDAY learnt that the Coroner that investigated the body in South Africa confirmed the stowaway was already dead days before the flight to South Africa.

The aircraft is expected back in Lagos today after the checks in a scheduled flight service
Aviation experts attributed the many incidents of stowaway in Nigeria to laxity of security at the airports.

In a breakfast meeting in Lagos on security organised by the Aviation Round Table (ART), a think-tank body in the sector, industry experts identified lack of central security command at the international airports and conflicting interests as bane of effective security coverage of the airports.

The experts said there are police, Nigeria Air Force, Immigration, Customs, Aviation Security of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAA) and other security personnel that work at cross purposes without a coordinating central command and the consequence is that nobody takes responsibility for effective security at the nation’s airports.

One of the speakers at the breakfast meeting, a US Transport Security Administration (TSA) attaché at the American Embassy, Gary Pleus, said insecurity at the airport could lead to tragic consequences and loss of economic opportunities, including tourism.

Aviation security expert, Ayo Obilana explained why there is laxity of security at the Nigerian airports and said that most of the security operatives extort money from passengers and other airport users and as long as security personnel ask for gratification security would be impeded.

“Average traveller at the Nigerian airport goes through 15 checks. We are the only country that still operate “dash” table (security operatives use to open and check passengers’ luggage), which is table of extortion. The tables have no reason to be there. These 15 checks can be reduced to three,” Obilana said.

A source from Arik Air told THISDAY that the airline has started reviewing its security programme and noted that all over the world the security of aircraft is the responsibility of the airport authority.

“All over the world, security of aircraft is the responsibility of the airport authority. We are also reviewing our own security system. It is difficulty for our security officials to get On Duty Card (ODC) from FAAN. In aviation it is a well-known fact that human beings can compromise. At the airports there are not enough cameras to monitor activities and in every country they try to minimise human interaction. Dogs and technology are preferred because they are more effective,” the airline official said.