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Abuja-bound passenger goes wild mid-air

By Kenneth Ehigiator
There was a mild drama in the air, Monday, as a passenger on an Abuja-bound Air Nigeria flight from Lagos went wild, forcing the pilot to return to base. He was arrested immediately the aircraft landed at the Murtala Muhammed Airport.

This comes as the World Bank has extended $50 million grant to the country for renewal of airport infrastructure and provision of critical safety facilities.

Air rage in global aviation is viewed with all seriousness by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, ICAO, especially as it impinges on safety of lives and equipment

It was not immediately clear what caused the male passenger to flare up on board, but Vanguard learnt that all efforts by the pilot to calm him down proved abortive.

Director-General of  the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Dr. Harold Demuren, said the unruly passenger was handed over to security men for further investigation.

According to him, the regulatory agency will henceforth insist on 100 per cent baggage checks as a result.

He appealed to passengers to always co-operate with air crew during flight to ensure safety of their lives.

Also confirming the development, the airline said in a statement: “Air Nigeria confirms that there was a case of unruly behaviour by a passenger aboard VK041 service to Abuja which led to the re-screening of both passengers and the aircraft in line with standard operating procedures.

“At no point was safety compromised as the flight eventually took off at 11:36am with all passengers except the unruly passenger who was handed over to security officials.

“The safety and welfare of our crew and passengers is Air Nigeria ‘s top priority. Air Nigeria has logged a formal complaint with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

“Air Nigeria would like to thank the passengers for their patience and understanding during the exercise which was done in the interest of safety.”

Dr. Demuren also disclosed that the World Bank had released to Nigeria a $50 million grant for rejuvenation of airport facilities in the country.

He said the fund was part of the $150 million grant meant for development of the aviation sector in West Africa, stressing that Nigeria got the bigger chunk of the money because of the need to restore the nation’s prime position in the aviation sector in the region in particular and on the continent in general.

“Governments in the region requested for this grants to enable them raise the standard of infrastructure and facilities in their airports.  Of the $150 million approved for the region by the World Bank, Nigeria is getting a bigger chunk of $50 million.

“This is because the World Bank wants Nigeria’s enviable position in the aviation sector in the region to be restored,” Demuren said.

Aside from airport infrastructure and provision of navigational facilities at airports, Demuren said the fund would also be used to acquire more fire tenders for the nation’s airports, train air traffic controllers (ATCs), and provide other safety critical facilities for the airports.

According to him, the World Bank will supervise spending of the money to ensure that it was deployed for the purpose it was released.

He also disclosed that the NCAA had attained 90 percent performance in the training of its personnel, stressing that the bank was quite encouraged by this.


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