Aviation security experts have described the incident involving Azman Airline and a stowaway at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos as a system failure.
They stated that the incident called for a system overhaul and urged the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, address security lapses at the nation’s airports.
A former Director of Operations of the defunct Nigeria Airways, Capt. Dele Ore, said the incident was a sad reminder of a failed security system.
“It is the highest degree of security lapses; if someone can make his way to the airside without being seen, it means all the checks at the airport are not effective,” he said.
Describing it as a wake-up call to the government, Ore said there should be enough security apparatus for operatives to work with.
An aviation security expert, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (retd), told Punch correspondent that the incident should be considered as a threat to national security and should be handled beyond the level of FAAN.
According to him, it should be made a matter for the Department of State Services.
“The intelligence unit of the country has a role to play here; it has little to do with FAAN. Airport security is a function of national security. If the man can get to the airside, he can get to any other part of the airport,” he said.
Ojikutu stated that the problem of access to the airport had been lingering for close to two decades, adding that the International Civil Aviation Organisation had recommended that a secondary perimeter fence should be built to support the existing one.
He, however, said nothing had been done since the recommendation was made in 2004.
“I still feel the man was helped to that part of the airport, which is why I have a problem with the suspension of security heads; it was too hasty,” he said.
Meanwhile, following the security breach, the Secretary-General of the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals, Mr. Abdulrasaq Saidu, has called on the government to commence a total overhaul of aviation security across airports in the country.
He said those in authority had not listened to the various calls and warnings from industry unions to recruit aviation security and fire personnel in a transparent way.
According to him, the unions have been vindicated, going by the ugly, disgraceful and embarrassing incident that has ridiculed the country before the international community.
Saidu, who raised the alarm on the ongoing recruitment of security and fire rescue personnel in Kaduna, called for its halt while all serving aviation security personnel should be profiled immediately by the government.
He stated that the process of recruitment had been bastardized without following the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s requirements, adding that the country would have been thrown into mourning if the suspect was on a suicide mission.
While commending the FAAN for admitting the agency’s lapses, Saidu said all those involved should be properly interrogated and investigated.
“Everybody on duty that day should explain how and what happened and must be dealt with accordingly. It is a challenge and a bad signal to the international community,” he added.