By LAWANI MIKAIRU & DANIEL ETEGHE
LAGOS—Security agencies, including the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, Nigerian Police, Nigerian Air Force and security agents of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Custom Agents, ANCLA, yesterday intensified security checks at the Nigeria Aviation Handling Company, NAHCO axis of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.
Following a report that Al-Qaeda and its affiliates may bomb airlines travelling to the United States and other destinations through mobile phones or laptops, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, on Monday, ordered its Aviation Security, AVSEC, to direct passengers to switch on their electronic gadgets before security screening at the airports.
This is to enable security operatives to determine genuine mobile phones, laptops and others that could be used as bomb carriers.
Vanguard observed that the situation led to a heavy traffic gridlock along the airport, Ikeja road causing motorists and commuters to be on queues for hours.
According to Vanguard’s checks, before any person could be allowed into the airport premises at the NAHCO axis, he or she must present an identification card to prove that he or she was an authentic worker at the airport.
Also, vehicles were screened before they could enter the airport while at the SkyWay Aviation Handling Company, SAHCOL, security agents were seen using anti-bomb detector to screen cars before they were allowed into the company’s premises.
The situation however led those without permission to enter the premises to be stranded at the gate of NAHCO.
Speaking, an agent with SAHCOL, Mr. James Chigozie, said the screening was to ensure that touts were prevented from accessing the airport, stressing that such screening was carried out to sanitise the airport environment.
Mr. Chigozie added that before an agent or anybody that worked at NAHCO axis of the airport got into the airport premises, an identification card must be presented to the security officials as those without any official duty at the airport were chased away, saying “I think the main reason for the check is just to prevent touting at the airport as people who don’t have anything doing at the airport are prevented from going into the airport premises.”
When contacted, Police Public Relations Officer ,PPRO, at the airport Mr. Dennis Ifijen, said that he was in a meeting and could not comment.
Also a text message sent to the General Manager Public Affairs, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Mr. Yakubu Dati, to confirm the situation at the airport, was not replied at the time of this report.