Touting, begging menace at airports worry Minister, NSA, vow crack down on offenders

…Say action ruins country’s image


Worried about a high rate of extortions at most of the country’s airports, Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo has promised that practical steps would be taken to holistically tackle the menace.

 The Minister who expressed sadness over the prevalence rate of touts and extortionists at the country’s international airports said he had received a series of complaints from Nigerians concerning both situations, saying it was giving the nation a negative image.

He disclosed that steps to transform the situation would soon be unveiled.

He said, “I have received several complaints about the menace of begging and extortion at our International airports by a few unscrupulous persons who give all of us a bad image.

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“My phones are beeping every minute with messages about this from well-meaning Nigerians.

“Just to set the records straight, most of the agencies involved in this menace are not under the control of the Aviation Ministry, though they are stationed at our airports.

“However, I have been working closely with other Ministers, arms of government and agencies who are responsible for these agencies and a solution is in sight soon.

“We are all working under the coordination of the National Security Adviser who called a meeting a few days ago on this issue and we shall soon unveil practical steps being taken to stem this ugly tide. We thank Nigerians for their eternal vigilance on this issue.”

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 Keyamo’s concerns are coming less than 24 hours after the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, launched a task force to tackle what has become a scourge at the country’s international airports.

 Managing Director of FAAN, Mrs Olubunmi Kuku, weekend, said the Director of Special Duties at FAAN, Mr Henry Agbebire, had been appointed as chairman of the task force.

Addressing newsmen in Lagos, Kuku expressed deep concern over the persistent harassment and extortion experienced by passengers at airports.

She said: “Dedicated phone lines and QR codes will be set up to provide passengers with a means of providing feedback on their airport experience. All airport personnel must prominently display their on-duty cards and name tags for easy identification and accountability.

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“FAAN is committed to delivering exceptional service and ensuring a safe and secure environment for all passengers and airport users.”

Wole Shadare

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