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Experts Call for Inter-agency Collaboration to Improve Safety at Nation’s Airports



Aviation security experts have called for collaboration of security agencies at the airport in order to create synergy and effective coverage of airport facilities in Nigeria.


In a paper presented at the on-going National Aviation Conference (FNAC) of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in Abuja, the General Manager, Aviation Security Operations at FAAN, Dr. Anne Otibor Egbadon, said: “Aviation security is the combination of measures and the marshaling of various human and material resources at the international, national and airport levels for the protection civil aviation against acts of unlawful interference. There is urgent need to ensure good working relationship among all the agencies that are involved in aviation and national security.”


She said that no single government entity could unilaterally fulfill national safety and security, noting that national sovereignty is a function of interagency unity, remarking that very threat against aviation is a threat against national security service and vice versa.


“Aviation security is the combination of measures and the marshaling of various human and material resources at the international, national and airport levels for the protection of civil aviation against acts of unlawful interference,” she said.


According to Egbadon, threat to aviation remained the probability or likelihood of an attack on a target and these include sabotage to aircraft, sabotage of airports, hijacking of an aircraft on the ground or in flight and armed attack on/off airport facilities.


She explained that terrorists and others target aviation and its facilities because the industry is a high profile sector, which attracts global attention when there is serious security breach like the hijack of aircraft, attack at the airports or related insecurity.


“An attack will force governments to react. An attack is likely to cause many deaths and injuries and an attack on aviation can have a huge impact with limited risk to the attacker,” she said.


To fortify the security apparatus at airports, Egbadon said there should be synergy among security operatives who come from the Nigerian Air Force, Aviation Security from FAAN, the Nigerian police, the Nigerian Immigration Service, the Nigerian Customs, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and others.


To improve their operations, she urged that government should increase allocation to security.


“The government is encouraged to increase the budgeting allocation to aviation and national security. There should also be establishment of good, social scheme for the citizens and equal employment opportunities for the citizens. There should be provision of employment opportunities at equal rate.


“National security is a factor of internal or external influences. Internal security relates to the political, economic and social factors, which affect a country from within, example, political strife, ethnicity, and control of resources. Also, external security on the other hand is influenced by foreign policies and no country is free from insecurity in spite of all the measures put in place by governments,” she said.


Expressing similar ideas, the CEO of Centurion Security and Safety Consult and former Commander of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Group Captain John Ojikutu said that for the different layers of security at the airports to have synergy they must collaborate.


“One would have thought that these airport security layers have been integrated and should be effective so that they would be able to detect any breach, but because they are uncoordinated they become gaps through which criminals slip through some times with the connivance of the airport officials,” he said.


Ojikutu has severally recommended that FAAN should review its security apparatus in the face of homegrown terrorism and also improve ways to detect insider threat by profiling security operatives and other officials who operate at the sterile areas of the airport regularly.


“Let me make recommendations to what could become threats to the airport security in the midst of homegrown terrorism. FAAN should create or provide three levels of parking areas around the local and international terminals. One for government and diplomatic corps and give it to the government airport protocols oversight by your AVSEC. All vehicles parking at the allocated point must carry government recognised numbers. No other vehicle, no matter the official, if not with government recognised or identified number should be allowed to park at the allocated point,” he said.


Ojikutu also recommended that only government or diplomatic registered vehicles should be allowed in the parking area to ensure their security and congestion.


“Secondly, the very important personalities and corporate organisations like banks, oil companies, multinational and international companies; a located area should attract parking fees of N500/ per hour.


“These must register with the FAAN Commercial, pay approved rates monthly, quarterly, annually or pay the hourly rate. The corporate vehicles must be registered with FAAN and any change of the registered vehicle must be brought to the knowledge of the appropriate FAAN authority,” he said.


Ojikutu also recommended that a national security or intelligence estimates should be sent to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to circulate to all operators both public and private.


“Airports are not the only targets for terrorists to attack;parking aircraft, fuel depots, etc. They require similar directives from the responsible aviation security authority. My take; first, since all operators have approved security programmes by the NCAA, all that is required is for the NCAA to use the security intelligence estimates which should be sent to it by the appropriate national authority to update the National Civil Aviation Security Programmes (NCASP) and send it down to all the operators under its oversight as directives not advisory,” he said.

Culled from THISDAY

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