The Director General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr Harold Demuren, has said that terrorists may be targeting Nigeria’s airports.
But he assured that concerted efforts are being made to ensure that these airports are protected from such attacks.
Since last year, the Federal Government through the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has deployed more security equipment at the airports, trained more aviation security personnel and deployed officials from other security agencies to the airport terminals.
Demuren said the possibility of terrorists targeting the nation’s and other airports of the world borders on national security, sovereignty, economy and reputation of the country.
On what the terrorists’ gain in targeting airports, he explained that such attacks result in high casualty of people. “It results in mass causalities/potential high death rate with attack on airport and aircraft,” Demuren said.
He said that the terrorists use the hijack of aircraft as a lethal weapon because it has high risk targets.
The Director General recalled that on the September 11, 2001 attack on the US Twin Towers about 2, 977 people died in addition to 19 hijackers, with aircraft used as a lethal weapon.
Also in 1985 bomb blast onboard Air India flight 182 about 329 people were killed.
Demuren said that although concerted efforts are being made to protect Nigerian airports, he conceded that terrorists have certain advantages, which include the fact that they have time to plan, to gather intelligence over a long period and have learned lessons from previous attacks.
Terrorists also have access to a lot of funding and are ready to die as well as being well trained with high technical knowledge.
“They have access to modern weapons and military explosives; often taken into restricted zone in bags, attaché cases, on body, cleaners equipment, catering and cargo etc, and may be in collusion with airport workers.”
Among the efforts being made to counter the activities of terrorists in Nigeria and in other parts of the world include simulating acts of unlawful interference which is pre-emptive preparation against terror attacks.
Demuren said that recently government carried out threat assessment on major airports in Nigeria, adding that preventive and combative measures must involve well equipped emergency services at airports, including fire and medical services; exchange of information with relevant agencies relating to terror groups and activities.
He also said that there should be emergency communication plans, recurrent training of airport security personnel, recertification of all airport workers and tenants and adequate contingency plans in place and that actions and procedures must be taken during an attack.
He also said that efforts are also being made to secure Nigeria’s airspace against acts of terrorism, adding that such actions include airport enforcement personnel, which involves aviation security, armed police force, including those in uniform and others in plain clothes.
There are also anti-terrorist personnel, anti-bomb personnel, the State Security Service (SSS) personnel and the use of sniffer dogs.
Nigeria has also deployed screening equipment, metal detectors, x-rays, explosive detectors and 3D body scanners.
Other measures include 100 per cent passengers and carryon baggage physical search, recurrent training, announcement for unattended baggage and the strict enforcement of use of identification/permit systems, perimeter security and CCTV surveillance.
He stressed that there are challenges in the efforts to protect these airports, including cost of screening equipment, bottleneck in airport operations and obsolete airport infrastructure.
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