Blame NCAA For Frequent Stowaways At Airports – Aviation Experts

Foremost aviation expert and former Commandant, Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd) has said that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) should be blamed for the frequent stowaways recorded in the country in recent times.
Captain Ojikutu who made the observation yesterday at the 2016 fourth quarter edition of the ‘Breakfast Meeting’ organized by the Aviation Round Table (ART) at Golfview Hotel in Lagos stated that NCAA has the responsibility to protect Nigerians and all airlines, adding that if they are not doing so, then it means that they are not doing their job.
Ojikutu said “The only authority in the country as far as I am concerned is the NCAA and not the Ministry of Aviation”, adding that if NCAA is not performing, then something is wrong somewhere.
The aviation expert who lamented the incessant stowaway incidents recorded in the system in recent times further pointed out, that there are lots of knowledge available but the industry is not tapping from it, just as he queried why stowaway incidences are prevalent in Arik air.
He said that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) cannot coordinate security of the airport because the agency was not established as a security agency ab initio and therefore, cannot control the Police, Customs, Immigrations, Narcotics and other government agencies. He however, commended the present Minister for his plans to restructure security at the airports.
Speaking at the forum with the theme : “Aviation Security In The Midst of Home Grown Terrorism”, President of ART, Elder Gabriel Olowo in his welcome note decried the level of security at the airports, condemning with totality the incessant stowaway cases recorded by the country.
According to the industry veteran, this security lapse portrayed by the stowaway cases affect a major sector like tourism which, in his opinion, is a faster way of getting out of the economic doldrums than agriculture, as the later may take a longer time frame.
Elder Olowo said “For us to get out of recession the sure way is boosting our tourism and the one way to do that is to build linkages through aviation. Tourism can give us money just like that but agriculture takes time. And one thing hampering the growth of tourism is security. Even our neighbours in Ghana do not want to come and the security is not helping matters as our law enforcement are seen as security threats on their own.”
” I read with sadness on the incident of the stowaway on one of our airlines from Lagos to Johannesburg and let’s assume he is there to stowaway for greener pastures but on the alternative he could have been a terrorist and may have just planted something on any aircraft avionics and this shows how porous our security has been”, the ART President added.
In his presentation, the guest speaker, a Transportation Security Agency (TSA) Attaché of the United States Embassy in West African Region, Mr. Gary Pleus told the gathering that in the grand scheme of things, security agencies must be on top of their game.
According to Pleus, security agencies must continue to get it right all the time because the terrorists only need to get it right once with devastating consequences as was seen in 9/11 which led to the birth of the TSA.
Pleus, an international security analyst said “aviation is a primary target for terrorists, they only have to get it right once while we have to keep getting it right all the time. A single incident has high stakes from the economic consequences to the fear it will instill.”
He called on the gathering to be wary of threats from the landside as well as insider threats as some terrorist would seek the cooperation of aviation security to carry out their dastardly act.
He was also particularly interested in the new trend using improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) further stating that most terrorists have gone from trying to bomb aircraft mid-air to attacking terminals as was seen in Belgium and then Turkey.
Citing the trend of terrorism phases in different parts of the continent, Pleus said “Apart from evolving new ways to take security unawares, they do not discard their old ways, these terrorists simply try to improve on it. It was after the attack on the terminal building in Belgium that these groups evolved it, to carry a similar and deadly attack in Turkey.”
He however commended Nigeria stating that the country has seen the need to improve on security and is carrying out regular exercises to ensure their terminals are secure.
“Kudos to Nigeria for trying to ensure they are prepared to handle this situation if it ever comes to that as most countries can take a cue and ensure that they safeguard the aviation industry.

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