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Airk Air

Recent stowaway on Arik flight suggests collapse of security at airports

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Fears of stakeholders in the nation’s aviation industry was recently heightened following the fourth case of stowaway victim who was recently found dead at the wheel chambers of Arik Air flight from Lagos to South Africa.

Making their views known at the breakfast meeting of the Aviation Safety Round Table (ASRT), a think-tank group of the aviation sector, they in unison urged the federal government to immediately review aviation security programmes at the airports and operating airlines, if Nigeria must prevent a possible attack.

Their fears are more pronounced against the background that the stowaway case had continued to be from one particular airline, a possible indication that its security arrangements seems to be the poorest after all.

Leading the pack of discussion was Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd), who observed that it was the second time Arik was being targeted within three days, after some armed robbers told police in Port Harcourt, Rivers state that they were headed for an Arik plane when they were apprehended in a shootout.

He also hinted of a recent incident where a domestic airline passenger plane could not land because some herdsmen, allegedly with sophisticated ammunition, were grazing their cattle around the runway.

He lamented that most of the airports have no perimeter fences and others that are fenced.

Ojikutu added further that “For all of these issues, I will hold the NCAA responsible. When the case of stowaway happened in Benin, I asked them ‘how did it happen without an insider’s connivance?’ The perimeter fences are porous. The MMIA has one that is not security-enhanced. That is why we have all these cases of stowaways.

“What I expect NCAA to immediately do is to review all the security programmes of these airports, and of Arik in particular. We are talking of the lives of Nigerians here being put at risk and government of Nigeria has a responsibility to protect them,” Ojikutu said.

On his part, cyber crime security expert, Ifeanyi Ugochukwu said the threat of terrorism was no longer in doubt, “it is only a matter of when it will happen.”

He said “Cyber security threat is real. It is not about if it will, but when it will happen. Our environment encourages insiders’ threat because we employ people we don’t have their background checks to work in our airports.

“The Nigerian state, regulators, operators and the passengers all have worked to do, but must first be aware of the precarious situation we are in.

However, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has said it is doing its best to ensure that security standards are duly implemented at the airports.


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