Beefing Up Security Surveillance At Nation’s Airports
The Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.
October 31, (THEWILL) – ANTHONY AWUNOR writes on recent efforts by the Federal Government to beef up security at the nation’s airports To avert breaches and ensure unimpeded flight operations, the federal government has started making efforts to fortify security at Nigeria’s airports. It has also installed new automated check-in systems at international airports.
Construction of Shooting Ranges
Part of the efforts to boost security at the airports is the construction of shooting ranges at major airports.
The shooting ranges which are nearing completion are said to be part of measures to train aviation security personnel in the industry. Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika made the disclosure while declaring open the maiden edition of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Airports Council International (ACI) Africa, Security Week in Abuja recently. Senator Hadi Sirika said the Federal Executive Council (FEC) recently approved the deployment of (K-9) security at the country’s airports following the ministry of aviation presentation.
The minister, who was represented by the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority NCAA, Capt. Musa Nuhu said this is expected to upscale the safeguarding of national and international civil aviation against acts of unlawful interference in limits yet to be recorded in Nigeria’s history. Sirika said, “We are working with FAAN and other stakeholders to quickly actualise the approval of the FEC for Aviation Security personnel to bear arms.
We are currently addressing the challenges related to damaged, incomplete and non-existent perimeter fences at Nigeria because as the first layer of defence, airport perimeters will minimise attacks, prevent incursion and enhance general security.”
Managing Director of FAAN, Captain Rabiu Hamisu Yadudu who also spoke at the event, said following the International Civil Aviation Organisation ICAO’s re-launch of the Year of Security Culture (YOSC) 2021, FAAN in collaboration with key stakeholders in November 2020 designed an approved AVSEC roadmap. The roadmap, in line with the Nigerian Airports Security Week theme: ‘Promoting Security Culture in Nigerian Airports’ covers awareness workshops/seminars/symposium, Policy and process articulation, enhanced security reporting system and community relations. The rest are security communication, standardised/structured security awareness programme, signage, posters and announcements, increase in number of AVSEC instructors and functional training schedule/programme and background checks.
The FAAN helmsman said, “To move these policy issues into measurable actions, we have focused on capacity development for our security personnel whose professionalism has become a source of pride to the entire country. “Aviation is technology driven. State of the art screening and surveillance systems are currently replacing old and epileptic systems in order to improve efficiency and assure satisfactory customer experience while enhancing security of flights, crew and passengers.”
He added, “The Authority has strengthened its collaboration with host communities more than ever before and will continue to constructively engage them as critical partners in our journey towards building a robust security culture in and around our airports. Our security communication is receiving the needed attention for operational efficiency and the next generation of AVSEC instructors are being identified, developed and certified.”
The Need For Rapid Response Squad
Also speaking, FAAN Director of Aviation Security Services, Group Captain Usman Abubakar (retd) said government should consider the formation of a Rapid Response Squad capable of providing timely and professional interventions in any crisis and distress situations to arrest the ubiquitous and unconventional pattern of the new sets and levels of potential security threats against civil aviation in Nigeria and the Sahel/Sub-Saharan region as a whole. He said, “Considering the size, challenges and technological advancements, it has become very important to draw management’s kind attention towards the approval of additional General Managers position in line with the Directorate’s restructured organogram.”
Confirming efforts by the government to arm AVSEC, Sirika stated that the Ministry is working with FAAN and other stakeholders to quickly actualise the approval of the FEC for Aviation Security personnel to bear arms.
According to him, their approach so far has been holistic and results-oriented, adding that the construction of shooting ranges at major airports is nearing completion. But Yadudu disclosed that until the agency put in place necessary infrastructure to accommodate the arms, among others, it will not deploy the weapons to its Aviation Security (AVSEC) personnel. Yadudu said, while FAAN has received approval from the federal government, the programme has reached an advanced stage even as a lot of work needed to be done in recruitment and profiling of such operatives.
The FAAN MD, who spoke at the sideline of the Nigerian Airports Security Week said “Approval is the most important aspect of arming the security wing but FAAN is a government agency , we must follow due process and ensure a lot of accountability and transparency, as of now, we are at a very advanced stage as part our due diligence.” “Once we get the approval, we have to do a lot of works to make sure that by the time we give the arms, even when you get the arms, we prefer not to deploy until we have all the necessary infrastructure on ground to accommodate the arms, the training, before you do the training, you have to get the people and even when you do get them, we have to do proper profiling, there are a lot of things to be done.” He explained.
A Call For Welfare of Security Operatives
Meanwhile, a former Special Adviser to the President on Aviation, Captain Shehu Usman Iyal, has advised that the government must consider as critical the welfare of security operatives at the airports in order to eliminate internal threat, sabotage, and encourage patriotism as well as dedication. Captain Iya said, “We have good men, we have the personnel present, all they need is proper welfare, when I say welfare, you as a security agent know that if you close from work, you have a home you are going to and when coming to work, you know there is a means of transport available to take you to your workplace or some allowance for that, you have lunch allowance that will make you work, and if you are sick, there is a clinic dedicated for you and your family to attend.”
“These are major areas that spur patriotism and dedication to duties. We have good enough hands, well trained and intelligent and they have the equipment. If you look into their welfare like I said, you will be shocked by the tremendous improvement that will be recorded.”
Speaking on potential threats to the airports following recent bandit attacks on transport infrastructures, Yadudu said, “I want to assure the Nigerians and the travelling public that the airports are safe. We are doing a lot of things in terms of security around the airports that we cannot make public at all time, but the most important aspects; we are fully on top of them.” “We have done a lot of training and it is continuous, our security programme is approved by the CAA, which is not an arbitrary approval, it is a regulated approval from the CAA which is competent and appropriate.” He added.
On the issue of being up to date on its security architecture, Yadudu explained that, “Security is a living process, we might have an airport that is fully protected with the architecture of the security apparatus, then suddenly, it doesn’t have to be something in our airport, something might happen in another airport or in town or a new technology even might render your up to date security arrangement vulnerable.” “So that is why I said it is a living process and that is why we keep working to ensure that our architecture for security, the trainings, awareness, we do this daily as the airports security committees have their meetings weekly, we do an overview, deliberate and also communicate with the airport communities to always ensure we carry along all our stakeholders.” Responding to a request by the Director of Airports Security Service for the approval of additional General Managers for the department, Capt.
Yadudu said, “Whatever they want, they will get it because we are very fond of our aviation security in FAAN, they are doing us and Nigerians proud, so they will get whatever they want and we can even give them a bonus, it is not a problem.”