Aviation minister raises alarm over airport security

Aviation security experts have called for concerted efforts to tighten security at Nigeria’s airports, warning that the level of incursion by unauthorised individuals to prohibited areas of the airports portends great danger for the country.
Although the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has fortified security at the airports after the stowaway incident of Daniel Ohikhena, who hid himself in the wheel well of an aircraft and flew from Benin to Lagos, security experts warned that more needed to be done to ensure that unwanted elements do not gain access to the airside of the airports.
They also warned of insider threats, noting that in spite of the efforts to strengthen the airports with hi-tech equipment, insider threats could endanger the lives of everyone, unless security operatives are extra vigilant.
The Chief Executive Officer of Centurion Security Limited, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd), said the recent arrest of three boys at various parts of the Lagos airport by the Nigeria Police indicated that the airports were still porous.
He therefore declared that those vested with the responsibility to secure the airports must ensure that they protect the lives of passengers and other airports users.
“A teenager among the three youths that were caught by police at the Lagos airport said he found his way into the airport apron through airport patrol vehicle and no one is asking questions about the quality of our airports access control. We saw it at Benin airport and we did not address it but FAAN and Arik Air traded blames. We are giving rooms for copycats to test their resolve on us. The terrorists are here and aviation is always in the progression of their targets,” Ojikutu said.
Former Managing Director of FAAN, Richard Aisuebeogun, pointed out that considering terror attacks in Nigeria,  insider threat may betray security apparatus of an airport, if proper action is not taken.
He said insider threat,  which is the violation of security policy using legitimate access or obtaining unauthorised access, is the major challenge of aviation security.
Aisuebeogun said the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos and other airports in Nigeria were facing terror threats like other sensitive government institutions, advising that the agency and other security organisations ought to intensify efforts to ensure passengers lives and that of other users of the airports were protected.
“The worst case scenario is to have a terrorist operative become an airline/airport employee, thus having unescorted access to restricted areas. Such employee could also corrupt an incumbent employee into providing access or to act as an agent of the terrorist,” Aisuebeogun said.
Speaking in the same vein, the Managing Director of Avscon Security Limited, Adebayo Babatunde, said protecting the airports required planned, organised security system and effective information management.
“Ensuring potential threats do not have access to the airports requires special organisation, both men and materials. You need effective intelligence which must be shared timely among all the operatives of the airport so that any potential incident can be nipped in the bud. You need security education for the non-security staff at the airports. It is important that every staff working within the airport receive basic security training,” he said.
Babatunde added that security officials needed to be monitored and profiled from their recruitment stage and while on the job to prevent insider threats.