The Federal Government, yesterday, said it was not unaware of possible infiltration of Nigeria by members of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS, but vowed that it was ready to contend them.
This came as the Federal Government directed security agencies at all airports to immediately increase surveillance and vetting of airlines’ personnel and screening of passengers. They were also instructed to increase vigilance on restricted areas at the airports.
Meanwhile, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, yesterday, said it had beefed security up at the major airports in the country following a recent report that insurgents were sneaking into Nigeria from Syria.
The Federal Government had expressed worry on reported sneaking of members of the deadly group into the country, saying the issue would top agenda in the 7th Meeting of the Ministers of Defence of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, CEN-SAD, slated to take place in Abuja between June 20 and 22.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Mrs Nuratu Batagarawa, who addressed the media, ahead of the meeting, which begins on Thursday, said Nigeria in particular and the Community of Sahel-Saharan States were worried at the trans-boarder crimes in the African sub-region.
The regional meeting, she disclosed, would focuse on intelligence sharing with a view to curbing the cross-border crimes among which she noted, included terrorism, herdsmen/farmers clashes and armed banditry.
On the order for surveillance at the airports, a source told Vanguard that: “A letter from the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, with the reference number, H.150/S.91/56, dated May 25, 2018, directed the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, FAAN and the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, to beef up security at the nation’s airports.”
The said letter was issued by Mr O. M. Olaoye for Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Surveillance at all airports, vetting of passengers
Meanwhile, Henrietta Yakubu, General Manager, Corporate Affairs, told NAN in Lagos, yesterday, that beefing up security at the airports was aimed at forestalling anything untoward from occurring at the airports.
Yakubu said special attention was being given to the Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Enugu and Port Harcourt airports, which services international passengers and were gateways into the country via air.
According to her, FAAN Aviation Security (AVSEC) is working with other sister security agencies to maintain surveillance on the perimeter fence, the cargo area, the runway and other restricted areas.
She said: “We have sent alert to all our aviation security at the airports to ensure that they improved on security, especially screening of passengers to make sure unauthorised persons don’t gain access into our terminals.
“The airside patrol is being done through the military joint force and AVSEC. They do it round the clock. There are vehicles that are parked on the airside and they escort arriving and departing passengers.”
Yakubu said FAAN had deployed modern equipment to screen passengers and baggage before entering the terminal.
“Our closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the terminals and the airside are all functional,” she said.
“The anti-bomb squad are deployed behind the screening machines at the terminal alongside the AVSEC and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA. They carry out further checks on any baggage that they suspect.”
Yakubu also disclosed that the periodic simulation exercises to sensitise travellers and other airport users on how to manage emergency situations at the airports would soon be conducted following the fresh terrorism threat.