The federal government has started the reinforcement of security at the nation’s major airports in order to fortify the facilities against terror attacks and other breaches.
This was disclosed by the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Captain Muhtar Usman, in an interview with THISDAY.
He said government through the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has put to an end the alleged pilfering and thefts on aircraft at the taxiways and holding points of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.
The director general who just as a three-man team from the US Transport Security Administration (TSA) to audit the Lagos airport visited the country, said the federal government was ready for the audit because it has made extra effort to secure the nation’s airports.
“TSA goes on inspection once or twice a year to countries that has direct air link with the United States of America. Nigeria is one because Nigeria has been adjudged as meeting the requirements of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Category One Safety Status. The team came to assess airport security at our airport. This is to consolidate on whatever achievements that has been made in securing the airports,” Usman said.
He noted that government has conquered the challenges with airside security of the major airports and now it wants to concentrate on landside security, adding that if the landside is secured, the airside would become more secured.
Reacting to the reports that there was inadequate security personnel at the major airports, Usman said government through FAAN has been proactive in securing the airports and disclosed that there is programme of recruitment going on to secure the services of those that would be trained so that they would be able to efficiently manage the security of the airports.
“The objective is to employ an efficient manpower and in sufficient number. NCAA has been working as a regulatory agency on this while FAAN is working as implementation agency to ensure that there is no gap whatsoever,” he said.
Usman, noted that recently FAAN Aviation Training Centre was accredited by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) as regional training centre of excellence for aviation security to cover West and Central Africa, which showed how developed the centre was before its accreditation.
He said FAAN has well trained security personnel and as the airports expand, the agency would continue to employ and train more personnel.
There are indications that since the middle of last year the reports about possible stealing on taxing aircraft came to an end because, according to FAAN, it intensified the monitoring of the airside of the Lagos airport and also increased the patrol of the airside and the fences of the airport.
To prevent inside threat and ensure that aviation security officials do not compromise their responsibility, FAAN started profiling of its security officials.
After the report of theft incidents, FAAN increased its security personnel and reinforced security at the targeted areas of the airport.
THISDAY gathered that since then there has not been any report of theft incidents at the airside of the airport.
The agency also said it was determined to prevent any action that could compromise security at any of the nation’s airports, including insider threat, which investigations revealed has been responsible for the bombing of aircraft and terrorist access to some airports in different parts of the world in the last few years.
Reports indicated that since last year, all personnel who work at all the private jet terminals, the construction workers at the airside of all the major airports in the country and all other workers who are not substantive staff of government agencies, airline and handling companies are subjected to profiling before they access the airport terminals, especially the airside of the airports.
FAAN said its aviation security personnel are profiled after every quarter and a new policy that no staff would serve in one post for more than three months was introduced.
So the Director General of NCAA expressed confidence that the audit being conducted by TSA team would be successful because Nigeria has already made significant improvement in the area of security.