In view of the recent find of the corpse of a stowaway in the wheel well of Arik Air aircraft at the Oliver Tambo International Airport in South Africa, the managing director of Centurion Security, Group Capt. John Ojikutu has blamed the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) for security lapses at the airports.
Speaking at the Q4 2016 Breakfast Meeting of Aviation Round Table (ART) tagged ‘Aviation Security in the Midst of Home Grown Terrorism’ Ojikutu said NCAA’s inefficiency had led to the incidence of stowaways.
He said NCAA had not lived up to expectation as the regulator of the aviation industry adding that there were so many security lapses at the airports but “what we are always talking about is CAT 1 and we are happy. There is nothing in CAT 1; it is a mere paper.”
He said NCAA should re-organise its security plans for the airports and airlines.
“I hold NCAA responsible for security breaches. NCAA should review the security programmes of Arik Air and the airports. When it happened in Benin, I asked how it could have taken place without an insider. Most of the airports in Nigeria have perimeter fences that are not security-enhanced. The perimeter fence at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport is used as part of private residence.
“There are security threats at all the airports. There is no central security control at the airports. Should anything happen, you cannot hold anybody responsible; everybody will be passing the buck. FAAN cannot be in charge of security because it was not established for that purpose.
“If you cannot protect the airlines, you have failed in your responsibility. If NCAA is hamstrung, then there is something wrong with us,” he said.
In his contribution, the managing director of Selective Security Limited, Mr. Ayo Obilana said aviation is the prime target of home grown terrorism adding that “even security operative at the airports are terrorists.”
“An average air traveller out of our international airports goes through 15 checks. There is a dash table, that is, extortion table. They (checks) are a disgrace. The checks can be reduced to three efficient checkpoints. If there is no security, tourism will not thrive,” he said.
He added: “We need to focus on the Lagos Airport; some of the equipment are obsolete, they have to be updated. We have to look at the issue of insider threats and intensify intelligence gathering.”
In his presentation, the guest speaker and Transportation Security Agency (TSA) Attaché at the United States Embassy (Western African Region), Mr. Gary Pleus said in the grand scheme of things security agencies must be on top of their game.
He charged security agencies to continue to get it right all the time because the terrorists only need to get it right once with devastating consequences as was seen in 9/11 which led to the birth of the TSA.
“Aviation is a primary target for terrorists; they only have to get it right once while we have to keep getting it right all the time. A single incident has high stakes from the economic consequences to the fear it will instill,” he said.
He called on aviation authorities to be wary of threats from the landside as well as insider threats saying “some terrorists will seek the cooperation of aviation security to carry out their dastardly act.”
He was also particularly interested in the new trend of using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) saying most terrorists had gone from trying to bomb aircraft mid-air to attacking terminal buildings as was seen in Belgium and then Turkey.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the president of ART, Mr. Gabriel Olowo condemned the incessant stowaway cases recorded saying it shows a general lack in security.
“I read with sadness on the incident of the stowaway on one of our airlines from Lagos to Johannesburg. Let’s assume he was there to stowaway for greener pastures but on the alternative he could have been a terrorist and may have just planted something on any aircraft avionics. This shows how porous our security has been.”
“This security lapse portrayed by the stowaway cases affects a major sector like tourism which is a faster way of getting out of the economic doldrums than agriculture which will do the same but take a longer time.
“For us to get out of the recession the sure way is boosting our tourism and the one way to do that is to build linkages through aviation. Tourism can give us money. And one thing hampering the growth of tourism is insecurity.
Even our neighbours in Ghana do not want to come and the security is not helping matters as our law enforcement agents are seen as security threats on their own,” he said.