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Poser Over Security At Nigerian Airports

By Wole Shadare   |   27 December 2009   |   7:12 am  

According to reports, an attempted terrorist attack on a Christmas Day flight began with a pop and a puff of smoke – sending passengers scrambling to subdue a Nigerian man who claimed to be acting on orders from al-Qaeda to blow up the airliner, officials and travelers said.

Passengers said they smelled smoke, saw a glow, and heard what sounded like firecrackers. At least, one person climbed over others and jumped on the man, who officials say was trying to ignite an explosive device.

Not a few believe that security measures put in place at the Lagos airport or any of the Nigerian airports may not be effective enough to detect the carriage of explosives or drugs.

Although the country has spent so much to improve security, but corruption, on the part of aviation security officials, has made put a stumbling block on the efforts of the Federal Government from yielding the expected dividends, as touting and toll collection has given way to effective policing of both the sensitive and non sensitive areas alike.

The Guardian had reported security lax at the airports, as having aided drug trafficking. The Nigerian Drug Law Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) would have recorded more success at fighting drug traffickers if there had been commensurate cooperation from other security outfits. The influx of private jets by powerful Nigerians who take off and land at various airports without proper security checks has equally fuelled the appalling security situation, particularly at the Lagos airport.

Piqued by the lawlessness of these few powerful Nigerians, the Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren, quickly summoned a security meeting where he issued a stern warning to any one found flouting security at any of the airports.

Again, people are wont to ask how much the country spends yearly on aviation. The amount earmarked for aviation, a paltry N15 billion, is just too small to tackle aviation security, not to talk of infrastructure.

Civil aviation security exists to prevent criminal activity on aircraft and in airports. Criminal activity includes acts, such as hijacking (air piracy), damaging or destroying aircraft and nearby areas with bombs, and assaulting passengers and aviation employees.

The domestic wing of the Lagos airport, christened General Aviation Terminal (GAT), is a disaster waiting to happen. Not only is security lax at the area a major concern, the screening machines intermittently breaks down, raising fresh fears about insecurity in the area.

It was rumoured then that the ill-fated Bellview airplane crash in Lisa, Ogun State in 2005, which departed from the area could have been planted with explosives, considering the effect of the crash. The aircraft was said to have been blown apart mid air before its nose was entombed in Lisa forest.

However, the report of the crash is yet to be made public by the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB).



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