Following the airside incursion at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos on Friday, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has suspended indefinitely the aviation security unit heads who were on duty when the incident occurred, pending completion of an ongoing investigation into the security infringement.
Passengers aboard a Port Harcourt-bound flight panicked on Friday after a yet-to-be-identified man climbed the aircraft while it was about to take-off at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja.
According to a viral video shot by one of the passengers in Lagos, the man illegally gained access to the airside with a piece of hand luggage.
The video also showed that the man climbed the aircraft wing and deposited the bag inside one of the engines. The aircraft was at the holding bay expecting clearance for take-off when the incident occurred.
The man’s action caused panic and frenzy as some of the passengers immediately demanded that the pilot and cabin crew open the aircraft doors for them to disembark due to safety concerns.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria said the so-called “mad man” who climbed one of the aircraft of Azman Air ready for take-off to Port Harcourt Airport had been arrested and kept in its custody.
FAAN said the investigation into the serious security breach had already started but did not give details, while the name of the intruder was not also revealed.
The agency, in a statement by its General Manager, Corporate Communications, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu said that the aircraft pilot of the aircraft was the one that first raised the alarm to its security outfit, Aviation Security (AVSEC).
According to her, the incident, which involved an aircraft with the registration number 5N-HAI, occurred at 10:09 a.m when the aircraft was ready for takeoff after a clearance from Air Traffic Controllers (ATC).
Yakubu said its officers responded swiftly to the emergency call.
“The pilot of the Azman aircraft with registration number 5N-HAI departing Lagos to Port Harcourt reported the incident and AVSEC officials swiftly responded. The man has been apprehended and is now in AVSEC's custody.”
Yakubu explained that the aircraft immediately taxied back to the apron for a thorough check and departed for Port Harcourt afterwards.
Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has since suspended indefinitely the aviation security unit heads who were on duty when the incident occurred.
The affected officers are the Airport Chief of Security; Mamman Mohammed Sadiku; International Terminal Security Officer, Oni Adedamola Abiodun; Head of Department Domestic Terminal 2, Owotor Kenneth Okezie and Head of Department Domestic Terminal 1, Badejo Adebowale Ayodele.
A statement by the General Manager, Public Affairs, FAAN, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, stated that in the interim, a General Manager of the Authority, Dr Anne Enyinnaya-Egbadon, had been detailed to take charge of security at the airport. Other affected officers have also been replaced.
The current arrangement, she said was aimed at ensuring an efficient and thorough investigation towards the recovery and sustenance of the airport's proactive security integrity.
FAAN views this breach as a serious security concern and has commenced an investigation to ascertain the remote and immediate causes of this incident to forestall future occurrence.'
Today’s security breach is not the first at the airport. It will be recalled that SaharaReporters had detailed how security at the Domestic Terminal of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, appears compromised as faulty security equipment are being used to screen bags of travellers making use of the airport.
It was also discovered that security screeners deployed by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria to MMA Terminal Two are not certified by the National Civil Aviation Authority to carry out the screening.
SaharaReporters had previously reported how a Nigerian woman bypassed all security points at the international wing of the airport and attempted to sneak into a United States of America-bound Delta Air Line. She was, however, arrested by the security of the aeroplane, as she was about to board the plane.
It was reliably gathered that of the not less than 629 staff of FAAN Aviation Security at the Lagos airport, about 85 security personnel are NCAA screeners certified.