March 3, 2024

Airports security:  Nigeria records over 1,000 breaches this year


Amidst massive investment in security infrastructures across the airports in Nigeria, infiltration has continued to persist with over 1,000 incidents already recorded this year.

Saturday Vanguard gathered that on a daily basis, the Aviation Security, AVSEC, arrests at least four persons attempting to beat the security system.

This is coming on the heels of the recent training and certification of over 121 AVSEC personnel at the newly accredited local training facility by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN.

Meanwhile, the Managing Director of FAAN, Rabiu Yadudu in an interview, noted that they have already set up manual patrol, stressing that, “The military is going around the airport facilities for improved security. This automation is not just in Lagos, but it also includes Abuja airport.

“We also bought two motorised equipment. If you have any security challenges at any airport, we will drive it there and deploy it. Inside the vehicle, we have three screens that we can use to monitor and protect the airports.”

Amidst these investments, the security breaches have portrayed the country in a negative light, according some stakeholders who spoke with Saturday Vanguard.

They claimed that some of the security operatives along with workers in the airports connive with individuals to make their way into the various terminals.

Nigeria currently has 32 airports, with FAAN operating 26, five of which are functional international airports. It also has a state-owned airport located in Akwa Ibom State.

In addition, there are airstrips or airfields scattered around the country, built mainly by the Nigerian Air Force and multinational oil companies. Nigeria has only one private-public partnership airport, operated by Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Ltd – Murtala Muhammed Airport Two.

Saturday Vanguard gathered that the various airports with sufficient traffic generates revenue for the federal government through the FAAN, either through payment for terminals, airlines fees, or selling of advertising space in terminals, garages, and other locations.

Also, FAAN had disclosed that it has put in order and awaiting delivery of visual and thermal cameras and other security equipment including motorized surveillance equipment to raise security at the nation’s major airports.

Sharp practices

However, Saturday Vanguard findings showed that despite maximum restrictions, individuals still find their way into the terminals after settling security operatives at the entrance of both arrivals and departures.

For instance, at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, MMA, security operatives in uniform take a settlement of N500 or N1,000 to allow travellers’ relatives or friends to enter the terminals. The payment is dependent on the individual’s composure.

Also, those security operatives controlling cars at the arrival entrance of the terminal might collect the settlement and advise the operatives at the gates to grant entrance for the individuals.

On the part of moving ban items, individuals also follow the same part to breach security operatives and even when caught bribes their way through, although payment structure differs from the former.

FAAN reacts

Meanwhile, Yadudu has lamented that arrests of individuals attempting to beat the securities are made daily at the airports.

But, findings by Saturday Vanguard showed that most of those individuals caught are the ones that are not well informed of the terrain, as regards the settlement of the operatives.

Furthermore, Yadudu stated that, FAAN puts up measures to curb incursions into the airports, new technology or improvisation to beat the security is introduced and when found out the agency learns from it to ensure it is not repeated.

He described the security issue as a race and that despite the daily wins a meagre percentile will be successful and that shames the whole work being done but that has not deterred the authority from its continued security upgrades.

In his words: “Aviation security is a critical component that is reactive. Anytime there is a violation, we learn something and make sure it does not happen again. Across the world security challenges are all over but at FAAN, what we hardly tell people is that every day one to five people are arrested and unfortunately, it is about 0.000001 per cent that escapes and is successful but we are working on it.

“It is a race; we are always trying to be on top of the race but sometimes something like this happens and thwarts all our work and that is why we say there is a function of security that is reactive.

“100 per cent functional security today but a new technology or new improvisation would all of a sudden render you vulnerable.”

From the information gathered by Saturday Vanguard, it implies that more than 1,000 cases have been recorded this year as an average of four persons are caught breaching security protocols on daily basis as mentioned by Capt. Yadudu.

Capt. Yadudu, FAAN had identified various gaps over the years and has solutions for those problems. Still, because FAAN is an agency of government, unlike the private sector, some of those solutions take time to acquire and implement.

Yadudu said, government processes and due process are necessary and also matter in all we do. A private airport can have a problem today and by tomorrow, it can deploy the solutions to it. We know the solutions to the problems we have, but we have to ensure that the due processes are followed for us to implement them.

FAAN is on the verge of procuring visual and thermal infrared cameras – visuals to cover the areas for a whole day – sunrise to sunset and thermal from sunset to early morning. This will cover within an 8km radius, which is 16km in diameter.

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