STAKEHOLDERS SEEK ENHANCED SECURITY AT AIRPORTS

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Aviation industry stakeholders have reacted to new security alert that warned of looming security threat at the airports.

They advised the federal government to evolve new security apparatus to protect air travellers and other airport users in the country.

The alert was contained in a letter from the Ministry of Interior to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps titled, “Looming Threat of Attack on Nation’s Airports.”

The letter, which was signed by P. O. Egbodo, Director (Joint Services) for Ministry of Interior, stated, “I am directed to forward herewith letter from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) with ref: NSA/366/S dated 6th April, 2021 on the above subject and to request you to liaise/partner with all airports management nationwide and other stakeholders to upgrade the existing security measures around the nation’s airports in the interim to prevent such threats.”

Since terror and bandit attacks pervaded the country there has been continuous threats at the airports with successful kidnapping of airport workers at Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) near the airports in Jos and Kaduna.

Owing to this, the stakeholders who insisted that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and FAAN should brainstorm and find ways to fortify security at the airports said the regulatory agency should follow its security programme guided by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The CEO of Centurion Securities and the Secretary of Aviation Round Table (ART), Group Captain John Ojikutu (retd) said NCAA, FAAN and all government agencies working at the airports should put heads together to reinforce the security architecture at the airports.

He said the core security operatives should be deployed to the airport and given responsibilities, noting that aside from the police, DSS, Nigerian Customs Service, the Nigerian Immigration Service, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the Nigerian Air Force, “the others are just additional problems in what the insiders threats are in our airports.”

“Every operator airline and others should have security programmes approved by the NCAA; same way the NCAA approved the airport security programmes. Whenever issues of national security like the one at hand comes up, the NCAA releases security directives based on the need to know on the national security intelligence.

“Each time I hear that the government should do this or that where the responsible agency is relevant and approximately positioned, I wonder why the masquerade or the cloaking.

“Everything you have listed is detailed in the Civil Aviation Authority and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority Security Programme (NCASP) as the responsibilities of the NCAA.

“One other issue that concerns the NCAA and the government security agencies which has been put under the NSA and am strongly against is the establishment of the national aviation security committee.”

“This for me is the reason for the ineffective coordination of the government security agencies working in the airport. Except this is done, the gap of negligence for effective control of security will remain at our airports,” Ojikutu said.

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), TAL Helicopters, Femi Adeniji said the Nigerian aviation industry requires some improvements, especially regarding security and safety measures.

He recommended how to improve security at the airports.

He explained: “The Nigerian government should work together with aviation agencies, airline operators, aviation security personnel and other security agencies.

“The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has provided four principles to guide the cooperative security efforts of governments and aviation industry bodies, which should be applied in Nigerian aviation.

“The principles include: risk-based measures to ensure that limited resources are applied where the threats are greatest; sharing of information between government and aviation industry bodies to enable effective risk assessments; implementation of global standards in security systems to support effective collaboration between all parties in all locations; capacity building; and the mutual recognition of standards to improve effectiveness and efficiency.”

Adeniji noted that there should be a proper and efficient review by aviation agencies and regulators to identify any safety and security breaches. He also advised the relevant agencies to conduct regular review and appraisal of personnel to ensure safety requirements are adhered to.

“Aviation agencies recruiting personnel should conduct thorough due diligence on security services employment candidates.

“Security personnel should also be sufficiently trained and only personnel with adequate safety and security knowledge and skills should be employed.

“The aviation industry should make use of standardised technology for efficient security measures. There should be sufficient closed-circuit television camera systems in place at strategic areas of airports, including restricted areas to monitor passengers and personnel on duty.

“The government could adopt a technological security system similar to the one at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel where staff operates an automatic luggage security checking system called hold baggage screening.

“The system operates a 100 per cent automatic technological security check method. When standardised technology has been implemented, the requisite number of people can be employed to oversee such systems,” he said.

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