Towards curbing stowaways at Lagos Airport
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) command at the Muritala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), while giving account of its activities last year, announced that 17 stowaways were recorded at the airport between January and December 2014, while only one has been recorded so far in the year.
The figures quoted by the Immigration officer brought to fore the necessity for more security for both wings of the airport to reduce the stowaway rate.
Immigration officials flaunted the fact that only one has been recorded so far this year as showing significant improvement in the security measures at the airport. However, another stowaway was arrested recently at the second local wing (MMA2) of the Lagos airport after that disclosure.
The latest stowaway was hiding in the tyre compartment of a Lagos-Ghana-bound aircraft belonging to Med-View Airline. The plane was ready to taxi from the private terminal before the pilot sighted the culprit, who was identified as Festus Chikelube, 24, and handed over to the security agencies.
The suspect reportedly confessed to the act, saying he had been sleeping around the airport for two weeks perfecting his plan. He said the search for greener pastures pushed him to the act.
Apart from Chikelube’s case, stowaways had been arrested in the past from Delta Airlines, Arik Air and other airlines, a development which analysts say reflect the porous state of security at the airport. The airport terminal is expected to be a highly restricted area in the airport. So despite heavy security presence of the Aviation Security (AVSEC) officials, the police, State Security Service (SSS) and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) operatives and other paramilitary agencies, many observers wonder why stowaways could be beating the security network to gain access to the terminal.