PROMPTED by the increasing daredevilry among terrorists, jihadists and bandits especially in the North, the Federal Government is taking proactive steps to strengthen security at our airports. The Federal Executive Council, FEC, recently approved the deployment of K-9 Security at the airports.
This will involve the completion of shooting ranges and the arming of Aviation Security Services, AVSEC, personnel. A message from the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, at the Airports Council International, ACI, Africa Security week organised by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, recently, assured that all agencies of the aviation sector are working together to make air travel safer in Nigeria.
The completion of shooting ranges in all our airports needs not create panic among the populace. It is a normal measure employed worldwide to keep stragglers and people with evil intentions away from the sensitive precincts of airports.
Such elements have been rearing their ugly heads in the North. Terrorists which the Buhari government prefers to call “bandits” a couple of months ago downed a Nigerian Air Force fighter jet in Zamfara State, though the gallant and lucky pilot, Abayomi Dairo, escaped unhurt.
The same elements infiltrated the Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA, killing two officers and abducting one. Their latest act of terror was the bombing of the Abuja-Kaduna rail track and shooting of a train. Upgrading airport security with shooting ranges and arming of security personnel should deter terrorists and criminals from positioning and taking potshots at planes near and within our airports.
Our fears, however, are aroused by the current general apathy of security personnel towards their duties even when valuable intelligence reports of danger are made available to them in their offices.
In the North West, despite the linkage of SIM cards to National Identity Numbers, NINs, and the shutdown of telecom networks, the terrorists have continued to operate freely due to unwillingness of security personnel to act on proven intelligence reports.
We hope that the AVSEC officials will do better than that. The AVSEC should be able to operate round the clock. Aviation sector agencies must redouble their efforts to bond with the host communities of our airports towards fostering safety.
They should empower the vigilante outfits of host communities to assist with critical and timely intelligence on the presence of suspicious elements.
The Ministry of Aviation must also hasten efforts to complete the perimeter fencing of all airports and the electronic monitoring of unwanted human presence around them.
This will eliminate the penchant of nomadic herdsmen to lead their livestock into our airport tarmacs. It will also stop stragglers from jaywalking through such high security setups.
We must firmly keep undesirable elements away from our airports.