Military Takes Over Airport Security In Northern States
A combined team of security operatives from the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) have taken over strategic positions in most of the airports in the Northern part of the country to prevent any form of security breach by bandits and other criminal elements.
Prior to the development, such places were manned by security personnel of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
But following the attack and abduction of aviation workers from FAAN Estate, Kaduna, two weeks ago, the federal government had ordered security beef up in all the airports in the North.
When LEADERSHIP Friday visited some of the airports to assess the level of compliance with the government’s directive, it was noticed that soldiers and Air Force personnel had replaced FAAN and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) officials who hitherto provide security in the facilities.
In Katsina State, our correspondent observed that more military presence was noticed at the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua International Airport unlike in the past where only aviation security personnel manned the place.
Some of the military personnel were seen in their trucks around the airport, while others mounted surveillance in other critical areas.
The aviation security officials however search workers and visitors before letting them into the airport as well as enforcing COVID-19 guidelines.
At the Yakubu Gowon Airport Heipang in Barkin Ladi local government area of Plateau State, new security arrangements have been introduced.
Approval has also been given for the fencing of staff quarters and the operational area of the airport to prevent people suspected to be criminals from gaining access into it.
It was learnt that FAAN invited NAF personnel to guard the staff quarters and the runaway.
At the FAAN staff quarters in Barkin Ladi local government area, two of the flats were occupied by members of the Special Task Force on Jos crisis code named, “Operation Safe Haven (OPSH).
At the entrance of the airport, security men ensured that anyone coming into the area complied with COVID-19 safety.
Security cameras which were not functioning at the Yola International Airport in Adamawa State before now have been fixed to enhance safety in the airport.
FAAN officials said the airport management had also recruited more security personnel and deployed them to strategic locations to keep vigil in and around the airport.
Visitors are subjected to thorough search at the gate and terminals while vehicles are checked with metal detectors.
At both the Ilorin International Airport and the staff quarters in Ilorin, the state capital, LEADERSHIP Friday noticed heavy presence of both regular and plain cloth policemen.
The airport’s head of corporate affairs unit, Adeoluwa Oluwakayode, said the staff quarters is well fenced.
“Apart from this, there are various security measures put in place by both the management and people living in the quarters. There are security arrangements, we have the Nigerian Air Force Base close to the quarters, FAAN security men and others are in place.”
In Borno State, the Maiduguri International Airport remains fortified with security men because of the activities of Boko Haram terrorists who frequently attacked public structures.
Heavy presence of both soldiers and other security agents was noticed at the entry point of the airport with the surrounding environment manned by operatives who had sandbags strategically stationed.
A staff member of the airport said the airport management is collaborating with the military, especially the Air Force whose base is a few metres away from the airport for maximum protection.
His words: “With the activities of the Boko Haram terrorists in Borno, even without the Kaduna FAAN Estate attack, adequate security measures are in place here to check any unwanted visitor.
“Good enough, with the closeness of the Nigerian Air Force base to the airport, a guaranteed security is always here. From the entrance to the premises of the airport, you can see the number of security men at work. So there is no worry about security at the Maiduguri international airport.”
Efforts to speak with the airport manager, Muhammad Jamil, were fruitless as he declined to respond to LEADERSHIP Friday enquiries.
Jamil said he had to get clearance from the corporate affairs department in Abuja before doing so.
The management of Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport has carried out risk assessment to secure critical infrastructure and people at the aviation gateway.
Some of the infrastructure which attracts special security attention include the terminal building, power house, the runway and control tower.
A senior aviation official said there is a joint patrol carried out between security operatives of the military, Police, NCSDC, Immigration and Customs to ensure maximum security.
Porous points along the airport parameters are also receiving attention, he said, adding that the joint patrol intensifies efforts to fish out any suspicious characters that might want to cause security breach in the airport.
However, there is no heavy security presence at Dutse International Airport in Jigawa State.
Since its commissioning by former President Goodluck Jonathan six years ago, the airport is not commercially viable as it does not record daily flights.
The airport has no staff quarters and with the exception of annual hajji exercise, the airport only plays host to occasional chartered flights.
Similarly, there is no extra security provided at the Gombe International Airport, a situation that may not be unconnected with skeletal services at the airport, as the facility operates two flights per week.
There is also no influx of travellers at the airport during this period.
In Taraba State, the federal government’s directive to fortify security measures in all northern airports is yet to take effect in Danbaba Suntai Airport, Jalingo.
Speaking with our correspondent, an aviation security officer, Emmanuel Jenjo, said, “The Jalingo airport is not a federal one, and that may be the reason why we haven’t seen any change in the security post. The normal security men we have are the ones that are still here.”
PMB Blames Libya Crisis For Influx Of Illegal Arms
As far as Libya remains unstable, illegal arms and ammunition will continue to flow in the Sahel region of the African continent, President Muhammadu Buhari has said.
The president spoke yesterday at during a farewell meeting with the outgoing special representative of the United Nations secretary-general and head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mohammed Ibn Chambas.
Buhari said Muammar Gadaffi held a grip on power in Libya for 42 years by recruiting armed guards from different countries, who then escaped with their arms when the Libyan strongman was killed.
“They didn’t learn any other skill, than to shoot and kill. So, they are a problem all over the Sahel countries today. We closed our land borders here for more than a year, but arms and ammunition continued to flow illegally. As far as Libya remains unstable, so will the problem remain.
“We have to cope with the problems of development, as we can’t play hop, step and jump. But we will eventually overcome those problems,” a statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, quoted the president as saying.
President Buhari described Chambas, who spent many years in Nigeria in different capacities, from ECOWAS to UN, as “more of a Nigerian than anything else.”
He wished him well in his future endeavours.
The outgoing special representative thanked the president for the personal support he received from him and from Nigeria, adding that the country would continue to play a leadership role on the continent.
On terrorism and violent extremism in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin area, Chambas said Nigeria was playing a yeoman’s role, particularly in giving support to the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).
Nigeria Police, AFRIPOL, INTERPOL Join Forces Against Illegal Arms Dealers
Meanwhile, worried by the influx of arms and ammunition into Nigeria, the Nigeria Police Force said it is collaborating with the African Union Mechanism for Police Cooperation (AFRIPOL), the International Police (INTERPOL) and other regional security bodies to combat illegal arms dealers.
Force PRO, CP Frank Mba, said the target of the Nigeria Police Force is to ensure that the supply of arms and ammunition from North Africa is properly checked.
The police spokesman who stated this in Abuja said the collaboration was already yielding results as men of the Intelligence Response Team of the inspector-general of police have started arresting gun runners and their cohorts.
He also explained that in a recent operation, the police officers recovered a total of ten sophisticated prohibited firearms, 2,496 AK47 live ammunition, ten live cartridges, Cartons of Tramadol drugs worth over N3million, bags of substances suspected Indian hemp, two laptop computers and eight mobile phones; while some suspects were arrested too.
Some of the suspects, he said, include Danjuma Bako, who is the major supplier of ammunitions to bandits in Kaduna and Jos axis.
He noted that Bako, while speaking to journalists, confessed that he transported ammunition from Jos to Kaduna, with his Golf vehicle.
He also said after each trip, he is paid N15, 000 for the transportation and one suspect (name withheld) gives him the ammunition for supply.
Mba said luck ran out of the gang when operatives of the IGP Intelligence Response Team intercepted him in one of the operations.
Another gang, which specialises in breaking into residential houses where arrested after they have successfully operated in Gwarinpa, Jabi, Gwagwa and Dei-Dei axis of the FCT.
The gang members include Nasiru Shehu, Mohammed Hakili, Rabiu Sani, Ibrahim Hassan and Haba Haliyu.
Mba said while the others go for robbery, Mohammed specialises in changing of the IMEI of phones stolen.
PDP Demands Open Probe Of All Arms Purchase Funds
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked the presidency to provide explanation over a fresh alleged $2.5billion arms purchase scandal.
The opposition party alleged that officials of the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration were named, saying the scandal is another testament of the stench of corruption oozing out from the Presidency and the APC.
The PDP however restated its call to the National Assembly to conduct a joint open inquest into the funds and other monies drawn purportedly for the security of the nation under President Buhari’s watch.
The party in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said, “With this fresh $2.5 billion arms scandal, reportedly involving the National Security Adviser (NSA) Gen. Babagana Monguno, who had earlier revealed that $1 billion also for arms cannot be traced, an alarming $3.5 billion (N1.3 trillion) meant for purchase of weapons to secure our country under the Buhari administration has been looted.
“The exposed barefaced contract scam in the $2.5 billion scandal as well as the outright disappearance of the $1billion as earlier revealed by the NSA, show the level of corruption and unscrupulousness among APC leaders and their agents, who are stealing funds meant for arms while our citizens are daily marauded, pillaged and murdered by terrorists, bandits and kidnappers.
“In fact, the unending exposure of sleaze in the security architecture of the Buhari-led administration has further heightened apprehensions in the public space that the security situation has been turned into a huge racket for corrupt enrichment of sneaky APC leaders and the cabal in the Buhari Presidency.
“It is more distressing that instead of standing on the side of the people to demand for a clean-up of the system and recovery of the stolen funds, the APC, as a party, is rather desperate to justify acts of corruption, because its leaders and officials of its government are involved.
“Our party demands that the Buhari Presidency should come clean and offer explanations on both the $2.5 billion and $1 billion.”