To­wards curb­ing stow­aways at La­gos Air­port

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS - From Ab­dul­la­teef Aliyu, La­gos

The Nige­ria Immigration Ser­vice (NIS) com­mand at the Mu­ri­tala Mo­hammed In­ter­na­tional Air­port (MMIA), while giv­ing ac­count of its ac­tiv­i­ties last year, an­nounced that 17 stow­aways were recorded at the air­port be­tween Jan­uary and De­cem­ber 2014, while only one has been recorded so far in the year.

The fig­ures quoted by the Immigration of­fi­cer brought to fore the ne­ces­sity for more se­cu­rity for both wings of the air­port to re­duce the stow­away rate.

Immigration of­fi­cials flaunted the fact that only one has been recorded so far this year as show­ing sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in the se­cu­rity mea­sures at the air­port. How­ever, another stow­away was ar­rested re­cently at the sec­ond lo­cal wing (MMA2) of the La­gos air­port af­ter that dis­clo­sure.

The latest stow­away was hid­ing in the tyre com­part­ment of a La­gos-Ghana-bound air­craft be­long­ing to Med­View Air­line. The plane was ready to taxi from the pri­vate ter­mi­nal be­fore the pi­lot sighted the cul­prit, who was iden­ti­fied as Fes­tus Chikelube, 24, and handed over to the se­cu­rity agen­cies.

The sus­pect re­port­edly con­fessed to the act, say­ing he had been sleep­ing around the air­port for two weeks per­fect­ing his plan. He said the search for greener pas­tures pushed him to the act.

Apart from Chikelube’s case, stow­aways had been ar­rested in the past from Delta Air­lines, Arik Air and other air­lines, a de­vel­op­ment which an­a­lysts say re­flect the por­ous state of se­cu­rity at the air­port. The air­port ter­mi­nal is ex­pected to be a highly re­stricted area in the air­port. So de­spite heavy se­cu­rity pres­ence of the Avi­a­tion Se­cu­rity (AVSEC) of­fi­cials, the po­lice, State Se­cu­rity Ser­vice (SSS) and Nige­ria Se­cu­rity and Civil De­fence Corps (NSCDC) op­er­a­tives and other paramil­i­tary agen­cies, many observers won­der why stow­aways could be beat­ing the se­cu­rity net­work to gain ac­cess to the ter­mi­nal.

Ex­perts blame the de­vel­op­ment on lack of a solid perime­ter fenc­ing at most of the air­ports, which, they ar­gue, ex­poses the ter­mi­nals to in­tru­sion by unau­tho­rized peo­ple. Speak­ing with our cor­re­spon­dent, an avi­a­tion ex­pert and Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of Al­pha First Avi­a­tion School, El­der Soji Amu­san, said there is the need to have a solid perime­ter fenc­ing on all air­ports in Nige­ria to guide against stow­aways and even graz­ing.

Amu­san ar­gued, “There is loose se­cu­rity at the air­ports in Nige­ria. There is no solid perime­ter fenc­ing in most air­ports in the coun­try. Lack of perime­ter fenc­ing al­lowed graz­ing by the run­way of some of our air­ports. For ex­am­ple, in 2005 an Air France flight crashed on cows on the run­way of Port Har­court In­ter­na­tional Air­port, killing seven of them and dam­ag­ing the land­ing gear of the aero­plane. All kinds of peo­ple are found at the air­ports due to loose se­cu­rity.”

Ex­perts, point­ing at daily in­crease in air pas­sen­ger traf­fic at the La­gos air­port, ac­cord­ing to re­cent sta­tis­tics re­leased by the Immigration, warn that the stow­away prob­lem poses a great chal­lenge to avi­a­tion agen­cies.

The Comptroller of Immigration at the La­gos air­port com­mand, Mrs. Chi­zoba Dibi, dis­closed that in 2014, the com­mand suc­cess­fully pro­cessed 1,294,010 ar­rivals and 1,491,448 de­par­tures, while from Jan­uary and Au­gust 2015, 665,450 and 755,817 pas­sen­gers had ar­rived and de­parted the air­port re­spec­tively.

From left: Head, High Value Events and Spon­sor­ship, Eti­salat Nige­ria, Modupe Thani; Di­rec­tor, Brands and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Den­loye Eni­tan; Di­rec­tor, La­gos Photo Fes­ti­val, Azu Nwag­bogu; Chief Mar­ket­ing Of­fi­cer, Eti­salat Nige­ria, Francesco An­gelo; and Brand Di­rec­tor, La­gos Photo Fes­ti­val, Wu­nika Mukan, at the press con­fer­ence to an­nounce the forth­com­ing 2015 La­gos Photo Fes­ti­val in La­gos yesterday. PHOTO: BENE­DICT UWALAKA.

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