Towards the end of 2019, the country’s aviation sector was confronted with another case of security breach involving an intruder who did not only beat security network at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, to enter through the unrestricted area of the airport, but also attempted to gain access to a Lagos/Owerri bound plane belonging to Air Peace airline through the aircraft wheel-well.
According to the image maker of the airline, Mr Stanley Olisa: “when exactly at 9:10am, the Lagos/Owerri bound aircraft with flight number P47252 was taxiing towards the threshold for take-off, a man in his 20s emerged from the bush along the runway, and tried to gain access to the aircraft through the wheel-well.
“There was a private jet behind the Air Peace aircraft. The pilot in the command of the private jet informed the Air Peace pilot in command that a young man obviously in his 20s, was trying to force his way into the aircraft. At this point, the security wing of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria ((FAAN) was alerted and the man who was at once accosted and whisked away, was taken to the custody of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).”
During his interrogation, the intruder claimed that he thought the aircraft was heading to overseas. Thank God for the swiftness of the security officials at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
Not quite long before the latest incident, a similar one reared its head when an intruder, who sadly was identified as citizen of Niger Republic entered the airport and climbed the wing of an Azman aircraft in an attempt to stow in the aircraft engine compartment. Beside these two incidents, the airport had recorded similar cases.
One good thing is that, in all these cases, nothing untoward had happened as all the intruders were arrested and sent into the custody of the security agents for interrogation and prosecution. Sadly though, up till now, the airport community, and Nigerians at large, have been kept in the dark over the outcome of the investigations.
While still awaiting the outcome of the endless investigations by the security agencies, one obvious fact is that the intruders have been found to follow the same pattern in their attempts to access the Lagos airport and carry out their only God knows aim.
In all the cases, their access was made easy by the loopholes surrounding the perimeter fencing through where the undesirable elements often found their way into the airport.
Though FAAN has continued to declare that the Lagos airport was well fenced; but the question is how do these criminals always make their way into the airport? How do the intruders often beat the security personnel manning the restricted areas?What about the CCTV cameras installed and the constant patrol of the airport?
While no one is trying to indict FAAN in view of the huge function of managing over twenty-two airports with their different requirements, the fact is that the manner these undesirable elements continue to have access to the airport is not good for the airport safety systems.
While the Crucial Moment sympathises with FAAN, it has, however, become pertinent to urge the authority and the security agencies to also consider to beam searchlight on the aim, the identity of the intruders and those behind their confidence.
In finding a way out of this menace in the new year, it may not be out of place to consider that it’s possible that some of the undesirable elements do not reside in Lagos. What if the intruders fly into Lagos or follow road transport from other states just to enter the airport to unleash havoc on people and any aircraft? What if their aim is get into the airport for the purpose of desperately stowing away in their targeted aircraft to travel out of the country?
What even if the intruders’ ability to beat the airport security are aided by frustrated airport workers or those who are familiar with the workings of the airport? These and many other questions are calling for the attention of the relevant airport authorities.
There is the urgent need for FAAN and the security agencies to tackle this issue in 2020 on one hand, while FAAN should approach the federal government for financial assistance that will enable it block all the loose routes the intruders often follow to the airport. Protecting the airports is not the function of FAAN alone because of the huge finance required, therefore, the government cannot afford to look the other way. It is more economical to prevent an accident that may occur from this which may be catastrophic.