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AVSEC: Strengthening Security, Safety At Nation’s Airports

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Recently, the, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) took new measures to beef up security at the airports, particularly in Lagos. In this piece, ANTHONY AWUNOR, highlights the role of Aviation Security Personnel in the new security network.

Aviation Security has certainly been at the forefront of attention, both by governments, the industry and the media in the last few years. This proves the simple point that aviation security is part and parcel of the sustainability of the aviation industry as a whole.

Over the years, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has done an incredible job in enhancing aviation safety around the world and the “No country left behind” initiative seems to be gathering momentum.

To support the global raising of the bar and to ensure that no country is left behind when it comes to aviation security, Nigeria is joining forces under the ICAO framework to make sure aviation continues to be at the forefront of all other transport modes.

In demonstration of management’s continuous commitment to human capacity development in order to meet the highest standards of professionalism and best industry practices as it concerns safety, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has lived up to the vision of the Authority, which is to be one of the best airport groups in the world.

To keep the airports safe at all times, the agency, over the years invested heavily in safety and security at the airports.

Early last year, FAAN graduated 216 cadets from the second batch of officers in the Aviation Security (AVSEC) and Aerodrome Rescue and Firefighting Services (ARFFS) and another 300 AVSEC and ARFFS personnel from the class of September 2017 AVSEC and ARFFS cadets were commissioned in September, 2017. With the first and second batches held earlier in the year, FAAN has graduated over 700 cadets for both the ARFFS and AVSEC.

To ensure AVSEC maintains high standard of Aviation Security screening across the Nation’s airports, FAAN had few years ago facilitated the training of about 35 Aviation Security Personnel who underwent counter terrorism training organised by the United Nations. These 35 Graduands, who are

Master Trainers are already being integrated into the system to train other Aviation Security experts.
The Authority has also enhanced the ability of Aerodrome Rescue and Fire Fighting Services, ARFFS, to cope with aircraft emergency management at airports. Recently the agency organised a stakeholders’ strategic conference on aircraft emergency management at airports for ARFFS in Lagos.

The conference, which was attended by FAAN staff, ARFF personnel and other aviation stakeholders, had as Guest Speaker, Aerodrome Rescue and Fire Fighting specialist of the America Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, Washington, DC, Marc Tonnacliff.

For effectiveness however, Director of Aviation security, FAAN, Retired Group Captain Usman Abubakar Sadiq had called for synergy among security agencies across airports in the country to stop the incidences of security breach at airports.

He also noted that information sharing was key to collectively tackle any security issues that might arise, adding that no security agency can work in isolation or handle security matters alone and achieve success.

Group Captain Sadiq who stated this at the annual lecture/seminar of the Aviation Security Department at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, held recently with the Theme: Aviation Security: An integral part of National Security, noted that AVSEC plays an integral part of National security as it’s statutorily charged with the responsibility of providing security services at airports nationwide.

He stressed that this responsibility was clearly spelt out in ICAO Security Manual DOC-8973-” Safeguarding Civil Aviation Against Unlawful interference” which includes the safety of passengers, airlines, ground personnel, crew members, the public and facilities.

According to retired group captain Sadiq , every security agency play a role in the overall security of the nation and as such all must not carry themselves as being superior to the other but must work as partners in progress to ensure the airport as an entry point was safe and free of security breached.

” Thus, as the security architecture or security sector is not complete without the military, police of intelligence service so also is the absence of aviation security in national security set up is incomplete due to the specialized security service it renders”, he added

In his own views, the Airport Chief of Security, MMIA, Mammam Sadiku reiterated that AVSEC capacity was not only to effectively surmount the present challenges bordering on airside security but to assure adequate security and protection of all stakeholders and investment.

While expressing appreciation to the FAAN management for their support in carrying out their duties, Sadiku said “I am excited to add that the highest level of the Authority’s Management, an enviable leadership, commitment and support has been displayed again and again in an unequivocal manner. For this, we are grateful and are rededicated to achieving the core mission of developing and profitably managing customer-centric airport facilities for safe, secured and efficient carriage of passengers and goods at world- class standards of quality”.

With the recent security incidents at the airport which involved poaching of aircraft compartments, FAAN, through AVSEC has already taken new measures to further forestall future occurrences. First, proper attention are now given to all inbound and outbound air passengers, notwithstanding the positions in the society

In her bid to improve the level of security surveillance on the airside of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, FAAN has also deployed 10 additional Toyota Hilux patrol vehicles to the airport.
According to the general manager, corporate affairs, Henrietta Yakubu, the deployment of these vehicles is one of the measures being adopted by the Authority to enhance operational efficiency and also boost security procedures at the airport.

“The Authority will like to assure airport users and the general public that we will continue to upgrade our facilities, processes and procedures, in consonance with our core values of security, safety and comfort”, she said.



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