SaharaReporters has learned that the Federal Government had ordered the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to immediately apply civil aviation measures and procedures to Very Important Persons (VIPs) and top government officials, many of who flagrantly disobey safety rules at the country’s airports.
A circular dated June 24, 2016 and signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir David Lawal, expressed concern that terrorist groups could exploit the blatant abuse of safety rules by VIPs and top government officials to wreak havoc on an airport in the country. To avoid that grave prospect, the circular warned VIPs and top government officials to desist from disobeying FAAN’s safety rules and regulations.
Mr. Lawal’s circular was copied to the Chief of Staff to the President, Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, Ministers, Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Permanent Secretaries, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Auditor General of the Federation, Managing Directors and Directors-General of government agencies, among several others. Titled “Need for Compliance with Traffic Regulations within Airport Environment,” the document remarked on the incidence of flagrant violation of traffic regulations by VIPs and top government officials at the frontage of terminal buildings across the country. According to the circular, such violations often created long queues and congestion contrary to air transport operation regulation mandated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) conventions. Mr. Lawal noted that the situation had worsened in recent times, drawing attention to the consistent abuse of aviation security (AVSEC) personnel by the security personnel attached to government officials and VIPs.
He stated that the actions of some of VIPs and top government officials posed a danger to Nigeria’s security especially in a climate of terrorism and in view of growing concerns about the possible use of vehicles as mobile bombs by terrorist groups.
The circular added, “It has been observed that some aides of top government officials and VIPs manhandle AVSEC officials whose duty is to ensure safety and protection of the terminal building, passengers and the general public.
“To avert this undesirable phenomenon, which portends greater danger in the light of the current security climate of intensified concerns about the possible use of vehicles as mobile bombs, all VIPs and top government officials are enjoined to comply with all the civil measures and procedures put in place by FAAN to ensure safety at the airport environment.
“All government officials should accordingly be guided and ensure strict compliance with the directive contained in this circular.”
In a more recent circular dated August 15, 2016, FAAN’s General Manager, Administration, Matthew Ifreke, ordered the agency’s security officials to immediately carry out the Federal Government’s directive on security measures at airports. The circular was copied to FAAN’s Managing Director and other top management staff at the aviation agency.