Apparently in response to safety concerns in airports amidst global threat of terrorist organisations, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) at the weekend said that significant efforts had been made to fortify security at the airports.
Managing Director of the authority, Saleh Dunoma assured that the Federal Government had developed efficient security system in response to new challenges like terrorism in soft targets like airports.
It would be recalled that three suspected Islamic State suicide bombers opened fire and blew themselves up in Istanbul’s main air transport hub – Ataturk International Airport – killing 44 people and wounding 239 Tuesday night.
FAAN had, on Friday, warned passengers, especially as the Sallah holiday approaches, to be wary of total strangers and suspicious activities around the airports.
Dunoma, in a statement, yesterday reiterated that there was no cause for alarm, saying, “security is already in place.
“The only thing is that once things happen you need to beef it up to a certain level above what we already have on ground. Such measures have been put in place. All the airports have been advised through a circular that they should improve security intelligence in all the airports, especially on the landside,” he said.
He added that FAAN is developing intelligence, which has become effective tool in result-oriented security apparatus, noting that intelligence has been part of the security system together with hi-tech and ever advancing security equipment, adding that the agency has ensured effective security coverage of the airports over the years.
His words: “Intelligence has always been there and hi-tech is a thing that is very dynamic; there are always changes; there are always new technologies that we need to adapt, but I want to assure you that we already have some technologies we have deployed and these are being used by our security personnel at the airports to make sure that as you move around they are there watching you.
“From time to time we improve on what we have as technology gets updated. Intelligence gathering is a normal thing; we have personnel doing that and analysis is also very important. Once it is analysed we share this intelligence with security agencies around the airports to make sure they take necessary actions as dictated by the analysis.” Dunoma said.
He said security personnel in FAAN and support security operatives undergo continuous training to ensure that they are fit and updated to effectively carry out their responsibilities.
Dunoma also spoke on the fears of insider threat and disclosed that the agency profiles workers who have access to the sensitive areas of the airport, including the airside and said that every six months the on-duty cards (ODC) is renewed and before the renewal the agency carries out background checks of its personnel and that of other workers to ensure that every person with the card passes security screening.
“There are a lot of efforts that have been put in by various security agencies and the federal government to make sure that our airports are secured. We have never disputed the possibility of insider threat. As people working for you, you cannot rule out the issue, but what we do in order to forestall that is that anybody that comes and wants to access any part of the airports, whether staff, personnel from government agencies or workers of our concessionaires, must go through some checks before we access them on-duty cards.
“We subject them to background checks, especially if they are staff. This is key and once we found you wanting we deny you the access and we send message to your agency and we do this periodically. Once we give you ODC and you want to renew it after six months, we carry out another background check. Through this we are able to check insider threat. And if we get a report of any questionable character at the airport, we make sure we get the person out,” he also said.
Dunoma assured that the agency would continue to ensure that the airports are protected and that the lives of passengers and other airport users are secured.