As Nigeria prepares to host the world during its 50th anniversary in October and in line with the new policy of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) after the failed bombing attempt of US airliner by Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Federal Government has reaffirmed its resolve to subject international air passengers to 100 per cent body screening.
Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Harold Demuren said that the government signed an agreement with the United States of America to have air marshals in US-bound aircraft from Nigeria to forestall possible terror attacks on such aircraft, insisting that every traveler must be screened, except the President and Vice President of the country and their families.
“No matter who you are, you must subject yourself to total screening. Only two people, the President and the Vice- President and their families are not subjected to that; everyone else, irrespective of status will have to go through screening.
“We are committed to making sure that nothing gets past us now, because if one threat accidentally slips past, it may spell disaster and put everyone in jeopardy,” Demuren said.
Delivering a lecture as guest speaker at the Nigerian Academy of Engineering forum in Lagos yesterday, Demuren and apologised to travellers who kick against the use of 3D full-body scanners for religious reason and health fears, insisting that the major objective was to ensure safety at the nation’s airports.
In the lecture titled: “Enhanced Aviation Security in Nigerian Airports: Aftermath of December 25, 2009 Attack”, Demuren said that security has significantly improved since the failed attack by Abdulmutallab, adding that Nigerian airports have improved on ramp inspection, enforcement and compliance by airlines.
He stated that the VIP personalities that would be in Nigeria at the nation’s 50th Independence Anniversary would not be given different treatment but must be subjected to similar comprehensive security screening.
The NCAA Director-General also disclosed that the CCTV footage of Abdulmutallab’s movement during the check-in process was thoroughly investigated by America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other top security agencies of the US and satisfied that there was no complicity by Nigerians, it decided to de-list Nigeria from the list of “Countries of Interest” which grouped Nigeria alongside alleged terror countries.
According to Demurem, “Nobody is exempted from security. It is better to go through security to avoid embarrassment. Only the President, the Vice-President and their families are exempted and I don’t want to speak further on it, but it is better to go through security at all airports.”
Fielding questions from reporters after the lecture, Demuren said the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos would soon undergo urgent repairs, stressing that “airports are no longer built the way the Lagos airport terminal was built.
Demuren said that to ensure that terror attacks are eliminated in the world it is important that countries share intelligence and security information.