The security breach that occurred at the Benin Airport in Edo State last Saturday has again discredited claims by Nigerian aviation authorities that our airports are safe and secure when in reality they are as porous as baskets.
At a time when terrorists are desperate to destabilise Nigeria and spill as much blood as possible, we find it highly irresponsible and criminal that a teenager could beat security personnel at the airport and board a plane without the knowledge of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN.
On Saturday, 24 August, the day the ugly incident happened, the pilot of Arik Air flight W3 544, departing Benin Airport for Lagos at 9.00 a.m. reported to the control tower the presence of a boy in the bush about 200 – 300 metres at the end of runway 23.
The control tower promised it was sending security men to the place to arrest the boy.
As the captain was making his final turn, preparatory for take-off, a cabin crew called his attention to the information by some of the passengers that they saw a boy running towards the plane.
The Captain again reported to the control tower and was informed that the situation was under control and that he had been cleared for take-off.
However, on arrival at the domestic wing of Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos, a teenage boy, who had sneaked into the aircraft main wheel well jumped out and was arrested by Arik personnel and handed over to FAAN security personnel.
We find the incident shocking and wonder how the boy beat the Aviation Security personnel at the Benin Airport to get to the runway and then into the wheel well of the plane.
Many Nigerians are worried about the incessant security lapses at our airports. With billions being pumped into aviation, we find it hard to understand why proper fencing of the country’s airports has been too slow and proper security checks have been missing.
As a result, the airports have remained unsafe and insecure. The consequences may one day lead to colossal loss of lives and property. We call on the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, to go beyond empty claims and secure our airports with well trained personnel and good fences.