Yesterday, aviation industry experts lamented the lack of security in the nation and urged a multi-layer security system to protect airports around the country from terrorist attacks.
At the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASTRI) breakfast business meeting in Lagos, the stakeholders stated that the alarming trend necessitates a revision of the airport security architecture by the world’s best practices.
Airports throughout the nation, particularly the Kaduna Airport, have reported security lapses and terrorist strikes that resulted in the death or kidnapping of operatives. Aerodromes are one of the soft targets that terrorists use to spread chaos and fear across the globe.
Dr. Harold Demuren, a former director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), emphasized that the threats are still developing but are not unique to Nigeria. However, the burdensome responsibility of anticipating threats and making plans for them falls to the nation.
Demuren noted that there were no significant aviation security issues in Africa before the 1980s. The 1993 Nigerian Airways Hijack followed, when a flight from Lagos to Abuja was diverted to Niamey, Niger Republic. Following this, the 9/11 terrorist attacks in America transformed how aviation security was seen throughout the world. In America and elsewhere, further layers of security were added.
The 2010 unsuccessful attempt by Umar Farouk Abdul-Mutallab to blow up KLM/Northwest Airlines occurred in Nigeria. Following this event, the NCAA mandated more extensive, multi-layered security procedures, including body scanners, at our airports.
“As the DG NCAA, the Abdulmutallab incident was the darkest day of my life. I was awakened in the middle of the night by the aviation minister, who instructed me to go watch the news. The CCTV evidence saved us even though the news was all over it that a Nigerian wanted to harm Americans. When asked for our proof, we were able to present it to America, and some major aviation nations at the time lacked what we had,” he stated.
praising the security services’ contributions to Nigeria’s liberation from American rule. In light of the Abdulmutallab event and the Country of Interest blacklist, he advocated for more concerted efforts to enforce the customary 20 layers of airport security.
Customs and border protection, the joint terrorism task force, no-fly lists and passenger pre-screening, crew vetting, Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR), canine, behavioral detection, travel document checking and checkpoints, and transportation security officers are some of the standard layers.
The federal air marshal service, federal flight deck officers, trained flight crew, law enforcement personnel, hardened cockpit doors, checking passenger luggage, transport security inspectors, random employee screening, transport security specialists in explosives, and the passengers all play a part in enhancing security.
Dr. Gabriel Olowo, president of ASRTI, a think-tank group for the aviation industry, stated that given the current security issues and degradation in Nigeria, it was important for the group to continue discussing the security situation in the sector.
Olowo bemoaned the lack of government implementation of the different communiqués from previous ASRTI breakfast sessions. However, they continue to be unfazed in their efforts to promote safety and security in the industry.
Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), an expert in aviation security, believes that the Abdulmutallab tragedy resulted in more security equipment being used in the local business.
Ojikutu, on the other hand, criticized the sector’s numerous security desks, stating that they discouraged visitors and investors from investing in the nation.
He emphasized that several agencies, including the Department of State Security (DSS), immigration, Aviation Security (AVSEC), and even the airlines, made mistakes in their profiling of Abdulmutallab.
When it comes to aviation security, Ojikutu said, “The more you look, the more you see; the more you see, the less you talk to hear more; the more you hear, the better your understanding leading to credible intelligence.”
There are only five security checks in the United States—three at arrival and two at departure—added another speaker, Ayo Obilana.
However, Nigeria’s security system is described as analog operations because there are no fewer than 20 security checks at the point of entrance and departure. This, in his opinion, is an analog operation—also known as the “bank cheque-book mentality,” which will not be of assistance to anyone.