Just six days into the full implementation of the executive order on the ease of doing business in Nigeria, one of the foreign airlines flying into the country, Delta Air Lines, has violated the order.
Our correspondent dispatched to Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos on Tuesday observed that Delta stopped the removal of the screening tables by its counters and insisted that manual screening of passengers must continue unabated regardless of the government's new policy.
This action contradicted the orders of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), who earlier on Tuesday held a meeting instructing airlines to obey and implement the federal government’s executive order banning manual screening.
After the meeting, it was gathered that the Managing Director of the FAAN, Saleh Dunoma, ordered the removal of the tables by each airline’s aviation security personnel.
It was gathered that other airlines within the premises complied with the order, but Delta refused to do so.
The Delta Station Manager at the airport, Mr. Salami, told the FAAN that he had received orders from his home country to continue screening passengers manually.
As part of the implementation of the executive order, screening of passengers was supposed to be carried out at the entrance of the terminals of major airports, including the Lagos airport. Passengers are not supposed to be manually screened by security agencies at the airline counters.
Some security agencies usually at the airlines’ counters are Quarantine, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the Nigeria Police Force, the Bomb Squad, the Department of State Security (DSS) and the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).
Security agencies were expected to begin complying with the order on June 1 .
The resistance of the airline against the removal of the table almost led to crisis between the Delta and the FAAN until the airport manager intervened and called the two parties to a meeting in his office.
As at the time of filing this report, the two parties were still holding a meeting with the airport manager on how to resolve the issue.
“The airline insisted that its staff must manually carry out the screening of passengers after the machine would have screened their luggage at the entrance of the terminal. They said that was the order they received from their home country. They even threatened to stop processing Nigerian passengers if the agency did not allow them to manually screen the passengers,” an airport source disclosed.
The spokesman of the FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, confirmed the development in a telephone interview with our correspondent.
She explained that Delta’s station manager and the FAAN were still at a meeting on the issue.
Mrs. Yakubu promised that the issue would be resolved soon, but suggested that manual screening of passengers could not be totally eliminated at the airport.
It would be recalled that SaharaReporters had last week exclusively reported on how the various security agencies at airport displayed flagrant disobedience to the directive of Acting President Yemi Osinbajo stopping them from ransacking passengers’ baggage by airlines’ counters.
Mr. Osinbajo said screening machines at the entrances of the airports and baggage areas underground, especially at the Lagos airport, should be used to screen passengers’ luggage, rather than the disgraceful act of physically ransacking passengers’ luggage in the open by the agencies’ officials.
He said that this would make the Nigerian aviation industry comply with international best standards and practices.
But when our correspondent visited the international wing of the Lagos airport early last week, he observed that the security agencies still carried on with their illegal activities without recourse to the executive order.
One of the airlines’ counter staff who did not want his name in print told our correspondent that a circular was passed to all the airlines on the directive and wondered why the officials of the security agencies at the airport refused to comply with the order.