The controversy trailing the recent resolve by the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to introduce visa on arrival policy to the public particularly, foreign investors has not exempted the country’s aviation sector.
Among those calling for restraints in implementing the new policy is the Managing Director of Centurion Security Services and a one-time Military Commandant of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Group Captain John Ojikutu (Rtd).
According to Ojikutu, the visa on arrival policy is capable of breaking the standing rules on aviation security defense layers “if the immigration service is the only government agency involved in the implementation of the policy”.
He therefore, called for the involvement of the aviation authorities like Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the airlines.
He said: “It would be expected that the home country would share some knowledge of the passengers with the airlines and the country of their destination, in this case Nigeria, before their departure always.
“As much as I want to believe that the roles of our national security intelligence would drive protocols, these aviation agencies’ networks especially the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) must include the NCAA who in turn would share the information received with airports security network and not leaving the security of incoming passengers that need visa on arrival to immigration alone.”
These passengers, Ojikutu maintained “cannot be different from those with visa on watchlist but still like Nigerian underwear bomber, Farouk Abdulmutalab would scale through immigration and airport security because the state intelligence do not work closely with the civil aviation security authorities and the airlines.
“Let’s recall the Abdulmutallab case where the information sent by his father to the United States embassy and the Nigeria NIA were never shared with the NCAA. Immigration, SSS, FAAN Avsec.”
“Abdulmutallab who was then on the US watchlist escaped but for God, more than 200 passengers on Delta flight from Amsterdam to Detroit would all have been killed on Christmas Day of December 2009.”
The Nigerian Immigration Service through its Comptroller General, Mr. Muhammad Babandede recently announced the introduction of a liberalised online Visa on Arrival (VOA) facility to the public, especially foreign investors willing to invest in Nigeria.
Babandede had attributed reasons behind the new policy to be part of the resolution of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) aimed at attracting foreign investors to the country.