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Knocks trail policy to arm FAAN security at airports

Knocks trail policy to arm FAAN security at airports

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Louis Ibah

Stakeholders in Nigeria’s aviation industry are divided over the Federal Government’s decision to authorise the use of arms by the aviation security personnel employed by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

While some are applauding the policy as timely and inevitable in an effort to boost security around the airports, others have kicked against the move noting that it amounted to the over militarisation of the airports. Critics of the policy are quick to point at the fact that already Nigerian airports are heavily protected with the presence of arms bearing officials from the Police, Air Force, DSS, Customs and Immigration.

Why arm AVSEC

According to the Minister of State for Aviation, Mr. Hadi Sirika, arming FAAN aviation security (better known as AVSEC) was part of new measures geared at boosting security and safety across airports in the country.

Sirika who disclosed the government’s stance at the 2018 retreat organised by Aviation Security (AVSEC) personnel in Katsina, Katsina State noted that arming AVSEC would complement the jobs of other airport security organisations in view of the growing threats to the Nigerian aviation industry. The United States of America (USA) had alerted the Nigerian government that some terrorist groups were planning to attack key airports in the country and that extra measures should be taken to beef security at Nigerian airports.

Said Sirika, “The Federal government has given approval for aviation security (AVSEC) to bear arms which is a notable achievement in this administration’s effort at improving the general safety of its citizenry and passengers passing through our airports.”

The Minister said the United Nations (UN) had established two aviation security training colleges in the country, which meant that the AVSEC staff would be trained in line with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards and best practices.

The criticisms

However, there have been concerns by some stakeholders that arming AVSEC who apparently are the only security outfit that enjoys uninterrupted access to all sections of the airport could lead to the abuse of such arms in a critical facility like the airport.

Andrew Emana, a passenger who spoke to Daily Sun at the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos said the sight of arms-carrying FAAN security personnel would scare passengers and make Nigerian airports less passenger friendly.

“Knowing Nigerians and the power of arms, this is a recipe for disaster. No one wants to be at an airport that is policed with heavily armed officials. That sight frightens and the perception it creates is nothing short of insecurity,” noted Emena.

“People who work or pass through airports want to feel relaxed and welcomed, and  a friendly ambience devoid of gun wielding men or women is more reassuring to passengers,” he added.

Secretary General of the National Union of Air Transport Empoloyees (NUATE), Mr. Olayinka Abioye, also expressed fears over AVSEC officials abusing the arms given to them.

“At the moment, some of our AVSEC personnel are wickedness personified and you may ask staff of other agencies working at the airport how AVSEC personnel treat them,” said Abioye.

“They need a new reorientation in this regard. Their duty as arms bearing security personnel should be curtailed so that they do not equate themselves with soldiers whose fundamental training is to kill “enemies” at war.

Abioye said care should be taken to ensure that AVSEC officials undergo a compulsory prerequisite training and medical/mental tests, psychological test and that only those who pass those tests should be licensed to carry lethal arms.

“The majority of them, as the need arises may be permitted to carry tasers and any other non lethal articles of defence,” he added.

Analyst, Eze. C. Eze however said there was no cause for fear as the AVSEC officials would be trained by ICAO on the proper deployment of firearms in an airport environment.

“If some of the nondescript, barely educated Nigerian Police official do not kill passengers at the airport, it is not AVSEC who are groomed and trained in accordance to ICAO security programme that will kill,” Eze noted.

The majority of passengers who spoke to Daily Sun, however, wants FAAN to invest in intelligence gathering personnel and technological devise noting that that would secure the airports better than arming AVSEC and creating fear and anxiety among passengers passing through the airports.

The post Knocks trail policy to arm FAAN security at airports appeared first on The Sun News.

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