Wammako: NCAA begins probe of Sokoto airport security breach

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has commenced a full scale investigation into the wanton security breach that occurred on Friday, 3rd August, 2018, at the Sultan Abubakar Sadiq 111 Airport, Sokoto.

The authority disclosed that it was in receipt of reports of a huge crowd that flagrantly broke all security rules and gained unauthorised access to the safety critical areas of the airport. These include runway, taxiway and apron.

A former governor of Sokoto State, Senator Aliyu Wammako’s visit to the state was followed by the huge crowd that received the Senator and his party in Sokoto on last week Friday.

The state capital was literally shut down as the surging crowd, came out in a show of solidarity with Wammako, President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress.

Immediately the plane carrying the senator landed at the Sultan Abubakar III International Airport, motorcyclists ran onto the tarmac to offer a guard of honour. And from the airport to the town, traffic moved at snail speed.

Thousands of political loyalists violently accessed restricted areas at the airport, breaking down the airport fence in the process and resisting all security machineries in place.

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A statement by spokesman for the agency, Sam Adurogboye stated that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CARs) Part 17.48.3(c), stipulates that “access by persons and vehicles to restricted areas, enhanced security restricted areas and sterile areas is restricted only to persons who have a clear need for such access by virtue of their duties.”

In addition, Adurogboye noted that the National Civil Aviation Security Programme (NCASP), 6.3.1. states “in accordance with the appropriate legislation, no person to whom the legislation applies, shall enter or remain in a Restricted Area, Enhanced Security Restricted Area, or tenant restricted area unless that person has in his or her possession a Restricted Area or Tenant Restricted Area Permit in respect of that restricted area or Tenant Restricted Area and complies with all conditions of issuance of the Permit.”

He further stated that the aviation regulatory body would not tolerate the reoccurrence of any such safety and security violations at any of the nation’s airports.

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His words, “Therefore, in view of the anticipated increase in aviation activities, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) as well as other State and Private Aerodrome Operators are hereby directed to beef up safety and security systems at their airports”.

“Similarly, the general public is hereby warned to desist from the unlawful acts as NCAA will not hesitate to impose severe sanctions on any person, group of persons or organisations found culpable”.

The regulatory authority, he reiterated would continue to safeguard civil aviation against acts of unlawful interference at all the nation’s airports.

“The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies will continue to work together to ensure that all our airports are safe and secure for airline operations”, he added.

Just on Sunday, the FAAN condemned in strong terms the invasion of the runway of Sultan Abubakar III International Airport, Sokoto by loyalists of some politicians who broke through the airport fence and invaded the airport in a bid to receive their political masters.

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Nigeria has continued to witness human invasion of airports runway in Nigeria any time electioneering campaigns approach.

This is generally seen in aviation as runway incursion and excursion; acts the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) frown at.

Spokeswoman for FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu in a statement yesterday said the unfortunate incident, which occurred on August 3, 2018, is a gross violation of the security and safety arrangements at the airport.

Yakubu however stated that their team of aviation security officers were able to curtail the situation, adding that normalcy was restored at the airport.

She further stated that the airport environment is a highly regulated environment and should be seen as such.

Wole Shadare