Armed Robbery At MMIA
OUR airports are exposed to enough security breaches that last week’s armed robbery at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, and the attendant reaction, should surprise only a few. Past attacks met with similar reactions.
Two policemen and a robber were killed in the Wednesday night attack. Government’s swift reaction was to order closure of bureaux des changes at the parking lots of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, “with immediate effect”.
General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Mr. Yakubu Dati, said “As a remedy the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria has banned the activities of bureaux des changes from the car park and other car parks at all the airports across the country.”
What a remedy? Is this the first time “the remedy” is being applied?
“The activities of bureaux des changes attracted armed robbers into the facility. We have given them time to come and pick whatever they have here because they will never enter this car park again. Task force will move in and evacuate them,” Dati swore.
Armed robbers attacked money changers at the same airport two years ago. There was a similar ban, but the money traders argued that they were FAAN’s tenants.
Until the recent robbery, many did not know FAAN had allowed them back to the airport parking lot. FAAN opened the car parks to their current use to manage acute space challenges.
If robbers attack airport banks or ticketing offices would FAAN also shut them down? Why the pretence at embarrassment?
Beefed up security at the Lagos airport was the same reaction in November 2010, when a man attacked Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former President, at the presidential wing of the Lagos airport. Elsewhere, the incident would have been considered a major security breach as President Goodluck Jonathan was in Lagos and the attack was in the vicinity of the presidential jet.
Quick tightening of security around the airport after the incident is the usual reaction. There is never a proper review of incidents to understand the complications of manning an airport with multiple access and open to thousands of people with different interests.
Airport security is an awesome task. We have the army, air force, navy, police, DSS, and FAAN security – at it. They concentrate on harassing innocent airport users.
More comprehensive rather than the piecemeal approach of tackling power failure today, water supply tomorrow, and failing radars after, is required to secure the airports and other places.
FAAN’s decision is laughable. The money changers would return soon. The challenge remains security of the airport, for all legitimate users, including money changers who are FAAN’s clients.