Abuja air­port’s new in­ter­na­tional ter­mi­nal takes off

Weekly Trust - - News - Chris Agabi From Eu­gene Agha La­gos

For decades, air traf­fic pas­sen­gers have had un­pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ences at Nige­ria’s in­ter­na­tional air­ports. Even pas­sen­gers trav­el­ling through Nige­ria’s cap­i­tal city air­port, the Nnamdi Azikiwe In­ter­na­tional Air­port, Abuja, were not spared the agony. Pas­sen­gers’ un­com­pli­men­tary tales from time to time dot the so­cial and con­ven­tional me­dia and rents the air at dis­cus­sions. From hu­mid ter­mi­nal ex­pe­ri­ences as a re­sult of fail­ing air con­di­tion­ers to bad toi­let fa­cil­i­ties, chocked ter­mi­nals and even lack of ro­bust shop­ping/duty free fa­cil­i­ties - ex­pe­ri­ences that should not be as­so­ci­ated with a cap­i­tal city. Cap­i­tal city air­ports are unique sell­ing points of coun­tries, es­pe­cially to for­eign vis­i­tors.

Though the Fed­eral Air­ports Au­thor­ity of Nige­ria (FAAN), the ter­mi­nal own­ers, has over the years tried to im­prove cus­tomer

A25-year-old na­tive doc­tor, Abudu­lahi Mudi, ar­rested by op­er­a­tives of the In­spec­tor Gen­eral of Po­lice (IGP) In­tel­li­gence Re­sponse Team (IRT) from his hide­out in Lokoja, Kogi State, has con­fessed that he makes more money from snatch­ing cars than what he makes from treat­ing bro­ken bones.

Also ar­rested was Christo­pher Ilia, a se­cu­rity guard at­tached to one of the head­quar­ters of a min­istry in Abuja.

Both sus­pects are mem­bers of a four-man armed rob­bery gang that spe­cialises in steal­ing ex­otic cars in La­gos and Abuja.

Mudi claimed he learnt the art of treat­ing bro­ken bones and treat­ing preg­nant women from his late fa­ther, but that he switched to snatch­ing cars and had par­tic­i­pated in the snatch­ing of over 30 ex­otic cars and that about 20 were stolen from their own­ers in La­gos.

Mudi said most of the cars stolen in La­gos were snatched in Ikeja, Lekki and Su­rulere ar­eas of the me­trop­o­lis.

Both sus­pects are presently in de­ten­tion in the IRT cell in Abuja.

Mudi told the team of in­ter­roga­tors led by Deputy Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice, Abba ex­pe­ri­ence at the in­ter­na­tional ter­mi­nal of the Abuja air­port, but the pal­lia­tives have not been far-reach­ing enough. Mod­est gains have been recorded in im­prov­ing the am­biance around the ter­mi­nals, crowd con­trol and ren­o­va­tion of toi­let fa­cil­i­ties but those ex­pe­ri­ences are a far cry from what an in­ter­na­tional air­port fa­cil­ity with huge pas­sen­ger traf­fic like Nige­ria should of­fer.

How­ever, this nar­ra­tive has changed with the in­au­gu­ra­tion of the new in­ter­na­tional ter­mi­nal at the Abuja air­port with state-of-the-art fa­cil­i­ties by Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari on Thurs­day.

This mile­stone be­gan in 2013 when the then Pres­i­dent Goodluck Jonathan reached an agree­ment with the Chi­nese Gov­ern­ment over a $500m loan fa­cil­ity to build four in­ter­na­tional air­port ter­mi­nals in Nige­ria: Abuja, Kano, La­gos and Port Har­court.

Abuja and Port Har­court have been com­pleted and com­mis­sioned. The gov­ern­ment also paid $100m Kyari, that, “I am a na­tive doc­tor and I treat peo­ple of stroke, bro­ken bones and other ill­nesses. My fa­ther who is now late thought me the art and I have been do­ing it for a long time in Lokoja, Kogi State. In 2012, one of my friends based in La­gos in­vited me, and when we met, he in­tro­duced me to car snatch­ing. He said the busi­ness would fetch me more money than treat­ing peo­ple. I ac­cepted then be­cause I was a na­tive doc­tor and I knew I could pre­pare charms that would pre­vent us from be­ing ar­rested.

“My friend then taught me how to drive after which we started in coun­ter­part fund­ing. One of the con­di­tions for the con­ces­sion­ary loan was that the $500m loan would be paid di­rectly to China EXIM Bank to the Chi­nese con­trac­tor, CCECC, to elim­i­nate un­nec­es­sary pay­ment de­lays in the con­tract ex­e­cu­tion and as a guar­an­tee the con­tract would not be breached ir­re­spec­tive of the gov­ern­ment in power. The air­ports were orig­i­nally billed to be com­pleted in 2016, but that did not hap­pen due to chal­lenges as­so­ci­ated with de­layed re­lease of coun­ter­part fund­ing.

Dur­ing the fa­cil­ity tour re­cently, our cor­re­spon­dent also gath­ered that the fa­cil­ity has in ex­cess of 400 CCTV cam­eras cov­er­ing ev­ery inch of the ap­prox­i­mately 56,000m2 fa­cil­ity; a con­course area and a 22-room ho­tel fa­cil­ity.

The Manag­ing Di­rec­tor/CEO of the Fed­eral Air­ports Au­thor­ity of Nige­ria (FAAN), Engr. Saleh Dunoma, told our cor­re­spon­dent that the new ter­mi­nal build­ing brought new fron­tiers and pos­si­bil­i­ties for Nige­ria’s avi­a­tion re­mov­ing peo­ple’s cars from parks. My friend had a master key we were us­ing, and at night we will go to any crowded bar and night clubs where cars are parked by the road side. My friend would open two cars of his choice and we will both drive them out and take them to our buyer who is based in Lokoja.

“We stole cars mainly around Surelere and Ikeja be­cause traf­fic around those ar­eas was too busy com­pared to other ar­eas. We stole about 16 cars in La­gos be­fore I was ar­rested when po­lice trailed one of the cars to the re­ceiver in Lokoja. The po­lice then used the re­ceiver sec­tor.

He said the Abuja air­port was do­ing about 7.5 mil­lion pas­sen­gers an­nu­ally; both do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional, but that now the new ter­mi­nal could process 15 mil­lion pas­sen­gers an­nu­ally.

He also said for­eign air­lines were ready to move into the fa­cil­ity as soon as they were able to do so.

Our cor­re­spon­dent also gath­ered that Emi­rates, Ethiopian Air­lines and Bri­tish Air­ways might be the first set of for­eign air­lines to use the fa­cil­ity.

The Min­is­ter of State for Avi­a­tion, Sen. Hadi Sirika, told the au­di­ence dur­ing the com­mis­sion­ing cer­e­mony that from po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic per­spec­tives, the Abuja air­port “is very strate­gic to Nige­ria not only be­cause it is the gate­way to the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, but also be­cause it is the se­cond busiest air­port in the coun­try and the fastest grow­ing in pas­sen­ger traf­fic in West and Cen­tral Africa, with an av­er­age growth rate of eight per­cent, where the world’s av­er­age growth is 5.8 per cent.” to trick me and I was ar­rested. The re­ceiver called and told me that he was in La­gos and he wanted to come and col­lect some­one and I rushed to where he told me and I was ar­rested.

“After I was ar­rested, the po­lice asked me to call my friend, and when I did, he sensed dan­ger and es­caped. I was later charged to court and re­manded in prison, but while in prison, I got news that my friend had been killed while he at­tempted to steal some­one’s car in La­gos. I spent four years in prison be­cause I couldn’t ful­fill my bail con­di­tions. I came out in 2016 and re­lo­cated to Abuja and started treat­ing peo­ple again.

“Early this year, Ilia came to me for treat­ment. He told me he had gon­or­rhea and I started treat­ing him. In the process, we be­came friends and he told me that he lost his job as a se­cu­rity guard and that he wanted me to as­sist him. At that time, I had one of my car re­ceivers call­ing me that he needed cheap cars. I told Ilia that we could make money if we could get them for him. Illa then sug­gested that we should get mil­i­tary uni­form; which we did. We started stop­ping cars at bus stops at night. We will flag down any neat look­ing taxi and when we en­ter it will show the driver our toy gun and force him to stop the ve­hi­cle. We will col­lect all his money and zoom off with his

He said, “The air­port pro­cessed 5,709,012 pas­sen­gers in 2017. This vol­ume equals to about 13 times the to­tal num­ber of pas­sen­gers recorded by Ghana as a coun­try.”

The ter­mi­nal build­ing, he said, was cov­er­ing a space of ap­prox­i­mately 56,000m2.

He said the Fed­eral Ex­ec­u­tive Coun­cil (FEC) had ap­proved the se­cond tranche for the fund­ing of the phase two of the ter­mi­nal in the sum of $461,795,551.02. The phase takes into cog­ni­sance ad­di­tional fa­cil­i­ties that will en­hance air­port ef­fi­ciency, he said.

Sen. Sirika also said the phase two in­cluded com­ple­tion of Kano and La­gos ter­mi­nals.

He said, “The con­trac­tor has gone ahead to im­ple­ment it as ap­proved, but re­cently slowed down the pace of work due to non-pay­ment of $69.3m coun­ter­part fund­ing by gov­ern­ment.”

He thus re­quested the pres­i­dent to pay the funds to en­able him com­plete all the fa­cil­i­ties. ve­hi­cle. Then I will call our re­ceiver who is at Ejule com­mu­nity in Ofa Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment of Kogi State. We will hand over the ve­hi­cle to him. He pays us be­tween N120,000 and N150,000 for each ve­hi­cle. The charm I pre­pared for pro­tec­tion was highly ef­fec­tive and it pre­vented the po­lice from ar­rest­ing us, but Il­lia was the per­son who got me into trou­ble again. I don’t know where he went to rob. He did not dis­close the amount he stole, but he brought just the man’s car to me and asked me to pre­pare charms that will pre­vent the man from look­ing for him. He didn’t even give proper de­tails about the op­er­a­tion. I ac­cepted and kept the key in my shrine and be­fore I knew what was hap­pen­ing he brought the po­lice to my house and they ar­rested me.”

On his part, 30-year-old Christo­pher Ilia, who is a na­tive of Lokoja, al­leged that his in­abil­ity to se­cure a job led him into crime.

“I be­came so des­per­ate after I lost my job. I started rob­bing peo­ple of their phones. I went out very early in morn­ing. I at­tacked peo­ple in bro­ken down ve­hi­cles or those who are work­ing alone. I threaten them with my gun,” he said.

Force Pub­lic Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer, Mos­hood Ji­moh, who con­firmed the in­ci­dent, said the gang spe­cialised in snatch­ing cars us­ing toy guns in the FCT and La­gos.

New in­ter­na­tional ter­mi­nal at Abuja air­port

Mudi and Ilia both mem­bees of a car snatch­ing gang, ar­rested by IRT

New Abuja air­port ter­mi­nal check-in coun­ters

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