As the need to protect passengers, staff and aircraft which use the airports from accidental/malicious harm, crime and other threats arises, the director of aviation security at the Federal Airports Authority of a Nigeria (FAAN), Group Capt. Usman Abubakar Sadiq (rtd) has called for synergy among security agencies at all the airports to stop such incidents.
Speaking at the annual lecture of FAAN’s Aviation Security Department at the international wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos with the theme ‘Aviation Security: An integral part of National Security’ Sadiq said aviation security (AVSEC) plays an integral part of national security as it is statutorily charged with the responsibility of providing security services at airports nationwide.
The director who was represented by FAAN’s acting general manager, administration, Mr. Ben Ailemen said information sharing is vital to collectively tackle any security issues that might arise, stressing that no security agency can work in isolation or handle security matters alone and achieve success.
He stressed that the responsibility is clearly spelt out in ICAO Security Manual DOC-8973-” Safeguarding Civil Aviation Against Unlawful interference” which includes the safety of passengers, airlines, ground personnel, crew members, the public and facilities.
“Every security agency plays a role in the overall security of the nation and as such all must not carry themselves as being superior to the other but must work as partners in progress to ensure the airport as an entry point is safe and free of security breaches.
“Thus, as the security architecture or security sector is not complete without the military, police or intelligence service, so also is the absence of aviation security in national security set up is incomplete due to the specialized security service it renders.
“The most important thing is to consider the present state of collaboration among security deployed to our airports. There exit gaps in the areas of cooperation, information sharing and synergy which need to be closed in order to meaningfully tackle the security challenges facing the nation,” said.
In welcome remarks, the chief security officer at the airport, Mr. Mammam Sadiku said AVSEC capacity is not only to effectively surmount the present challenges bordering on airside security but also to assure adequate security and protection of all stakeholders and investments.
“I am excited to add that the highest level of the authority’s management, an enviable leadership, commitment and support has been displayed again and again in an unequivocal manner. For this, we are grateful and are rededicated to achieving the core mission of developing and profitably managing customer-centric airport facilities for safe, secured and efficient carriage of passengers and goods at world- class standards of quality,” he added.
Contributors at the event stressed the need for heads of security agencies at the airport to give importance to meetings held monthly to discuss security matters and the way forward.
Security service manager at the Nigeria Aviation Handling Company, Nahco aviance, Commodore Mohammed Lawal Badamasi (rtd) expressed displeasure over the little attention given to such meetings when subordinates of heads of agencies are sent to represent their bosses.
“It does not say well of that officer; the subordinates might not be able to explain in details all that transpired during the meeting and also, there would never be a feedback.
” I think we have not given security the importance it deserves; airport security committee meetings you have heads of security agencies that are supposed to be the main people but they do not attend. Rather, they send all sorts of representatives. That shows the level of importance they attach to that important decision making body,” he stressed.
For their part, aviation security officers highlighted the challenges they face on a daily basis, especially in the hands of ministers, governors and other dignitaries.
They complained that such people would always resist to be screened adding that sometimes they are harassed by aides to such dignitaries.
They appealed to the FAAN management to introduce an enlightenment programme for other security agencies at the airport and explain AVSEC roles and duties at the airports.