Raising security bar at Nigerian airports
Recent attacks on airports in Belgium and Turkey have triggered global attention to improving security in and around the airports with experts tasking government of nations to rise to the emerging challenges.
The world is currently battling with insurgency of all sorts but airports have never been targets of terrorists until March 22 when insurgents hit Brussels Airport in Zaventem.
Shortly after, another airport, Ataturk, in Istanbul, Turkey, suffered a terrorist attack with the world expressing outrage over the incident.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) through its Director-General, Tony Tyler, said the attacks underscore the growing challenge for government to keep people safe in the landside of the airport.
In a statement, the association representing some 265 airlines comprising 83% of global air traffic said innocent travellers have been attacked in a cowardly and murderous act.
The recent attacks have, therefore, evoked debate on the level of security at Nigerian airports with many experts stating that major airports are not immune from such attacks.
There are concerns over inadequate perimeter fencing at most airports thereby making them vulnerable.
Instructively, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) which manages 22 airports in the country is not oblivious of the emerging challenges.
24 hours after the Turkey attack, the agency in a statement issued by its spokesman, Yakubu Dati, urged passengers not to accept any luggage from anyone and to report any suspicious movements or behaviour immediately to aviation security personnel in the terminals.
It said the authority has put adequate security measures in place at airports to forestall any form of security breach, including the installation of 3D screening machines, metal detectors and CCTV cameras.
The Managing Director of FAAN, Engr. Saleh Dunoma, gave an insight into the improved security arrangement at the airports.
He said that the authority conducts background checks every six months on its staff and other workers at the airports to guard against insider threat.
These checks are conducted before the issuance of on-dutycards (ODCs) which admit some personnel to restricted areas of the airports, he said.
An aviation security expert, Capt. John Ojikutu, told our correspondent that Nigeria is not immune to the kind of attacks experienced in Belgium and Turkey, urging authorities to rise to the occasion.
An airport perimeter fence