Nigeria: Addressing Insecurity At Nigerian Airports


For a number of years there have been incidents of Nigerians hiding within the wheel-well or different elements of plane to flee from the nation. The continual report of those incidents is a sign that the safety system on the airports is weak and porous.

Few days in the past, information report indicated {that a} stowaway was found within the wheel-well of KLM Boeing B777 plane flight that originated from Lagos, Nigeria.

In line with the report, “A deceased stowaway was found within the wheel-well of a KLM Royal Dutch Airways Boeing 777 (registered PH-BQM). The plane originated from Lagos, Nigeria. It is at present unknown how and when the person was capable of climb into the plane, however an investigation has been launched.”

Analysing the report, a spokesperson of the Royal Dutch Marechaussee stated: “The additional passenger is believed to have died from hypothermia. Sometimes, stowaways are found in wheel-wells of plane. ‘Generally they survive, however more often than not it goes improper given the sharp drop in temperature. On longer flights, temperature can go all the way down to minus fifty levels, unattainable to outlive.”

Though there have been arguments that the physique discovered may not have entered the wheel-well of the plane in Nigeria, however the desperation of Nigerians to go away the nation and the truth that there have been previous data of Nigerians stealing away and dying in that a part of the plane, weakened that argument, as the reality can be recognized when a complete investigation is carried out.

Safety System

Aviation safety consultants who spoke to THISDAY in relation to the incident, felt dissatisfied that stowaway has turn out to be recurring image-damaging downside of Nigeria and emphasised that it’s only a dedicated safety system with obligatory buildings and correct supervision that may cease the unlawful entry to the sterile areas of the airport the place plane are parked.

Stakeholders are additionally of the view {that a} compromised safety equipment can by no means successfully serve its objective irrespective of the gear deployed and the expert personnel engaged, positing that within the airport system the place safety personnel settle for bribes, solicit for cash or extort cash from travellers amongst others, the safety system in that airport will stay weak. In addition they averred that such corrupt system allows inside menace, suggesting that if terrorists come calling, they might induce safety operatives with cash and have their approach and do most harm to the airport.

Business observers have over time recognized infrastructural deficits on the airport, which improve safety breach and these embody lack of safety fencing, insufficient perimeter fencing, lack of efficient monitoring of sterile areas or airside of the airport. For Lagos airport, THISDAY investigations revealed that the airport doesn’t have complete perimeter fencing, no full safety fencing, as undesirable individuals entry the airport premises by means of many sides across the airport, the place the fences have damaged down or such individuals construct lose scaffolds to achieve entrance to the airport premises.

Safety Layers

Aviation safety knowledgeable and the CEO of Centurion Safety and Security Seek the advice of, Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd), stated that focus should be paid to each sequence of safety system on the airports and safety operatives should be profiled on common foundation.

“There are about eight identifiable aviation safety manned/defence layers exterior the Nationwide Intelligence: one, Airline Pre-Passenger Screening; two, Counter-Checking Screening; three, Airport Entry Management; 4, Airport Checkpoint Screening; 5, Airline Passengers Secondary Screening for Boarding; six, On-Board Screening; seven, Carry-on baggage Screening and Checked in Baggage Screening” he stated.

Ojikutu, who can also be the Secretary-Normal of Aviation Spherical Desk (ART), acknowledged that there’s airport safety fence the place the airport perimeter fence is just not enhanced to safe the airport operational areas, noting that if anybody of those is uncared for, not manned or compromised by unskilled or incompetent or corruptible workers, the airport is opened to any type of threats inside or exterior.

“What is critical is having common checks, inspections and periodic audits from the oversight and laws enforcement authorities inside and exterior. All I’ve stated are clearly acknowledged within the Nigeria Civil Aviation Safety Programmes however do we now have the satisfactory manpower as safety operatives and inspectors in required or ample numbers? The NCAA (Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority) needs to be the one to reply that from its annual audits on the operators, airport, airways and the allied providers,” he stated.

Ojikutu noticed that cargo screening can also be crucial particularly for these meant to be carried into passengers’ flight, noting that any stowaway is an insider menace or assisted by a mole as an insider’s menace. Insider menace is when airport employee makes use of the stamp of authority due to his recogised workplace or place to compromise safety by facilitating illicit entry to the airport, plane or any forbidden areas of the airport. Most terror assaults on the airport had been facilitated by insiders in cahoots with terrorists.

He itemised methods incidents of stowaways will be minimized, “Was the lifeless physique that of a passenger or stowaway? If it’s a passenger, maintain the airline accountable: if stowaway, maintain the airport safety operatives or authority on the working/safety restricted space, accountable. If a stowaway, he will need to have been an airport/airline workers or former workers who has labored intently with plane or will need to have been a mole ‘working’ within the airport, or may have been aided by somebody (insiders menace) working within the airport restricted space. It tells me that the airport safety programmes don’t embody patrol nor inside surveillance of the flight maneuvering/grounds areas. MMA is one main airport within the nation that’s throughout the city growth space of 4 most populated LGAs of Lagos and complex highway networks.

“We had comparable experiences with a boy of about 10 years on KLM flight from Lagos to Amsterdam returned to Lagos alive, I acquired him: one other (lifeless) on Egypt Air Accra to Lagos and one more on BA from Lagos to London and to New York however was recognized as a Nigerian due to the Naira discovered on his lifeless physique. Irrespective of the sophistication of the safety gear in our airport if the operatives and supervising authorities should not expert or devoted, the gear is nearly as good as nothing. Secondly, not a lot of our airports have Safety Fences (ICAO Annex17): they’re laid extra of perimeter fences (ICAO Annex17 14) which aren’t safety enhanced nor complied with the Nationwide Civil Aviation Safety Programme and also you surprise how they get licensed by the NCAA and generally too by ICAO. Now we have had so many incursions at MMA and different airports, together with Kaduna, Maiduguri, Calabar, and many others. What has been the result of the investigations if ever there was any? I relaxation my case,” Ojikutu who was former Commandant of Lagos airport, stated.


One other aviation safety knowledgeable and Chief Govt Officer of Selective Safety Worldwide Restricted, Nigeria, Ayo Obilana, informed THISDAY that to determine if the stowaway truly entered the plane wheel-well in Lagos, involved authorities should perform thorough investigation to understand how the stowaway entered the plane as additional unwarranted passenger. After the investigation which must get hold of a video clip the place the particular person was coming into the wheel-well of the plane, if the plane location was lined by CCTV.

“Armed with data from the investigation, safety authorities on the airport should take a look at the areas which are probably porous and put measures that may improve safety to cowl these areas the place safety might be compromised. The gaps should be closed across the airport to make sure satisfactory safety protection of the airport premises. Stowaway is just not peculiar to Nigeria. It occurs even in superior nations,” he stated.

Stowaway Information

The Murtala Muhammed Worldwide Airport, Lagos, has witnessed many data of stowaways as main gateway from Nigeria. Late final yr there was mangled physique of a younger man who most likely dropped from the undercarriage compartment of an plane on the Runway 18 R, often called worldwide runway of the Lagos airport. Safety operatives who eliminated the physique for additional investigation had been of the conviction that it may solely be one other failed stowaway try. Because the busiest gateway in Nigeria, the Lagos airport has unbeaten report of getting the best variety of stowaways. The one survivor to this point was a younger man who hid himself within the spares compartment of Boeing B747 operated by a Nigerian service, Medview Airways in 2017. Others that hid within the wheel-well of plane had been both crushed or killed by frozen chilly.

What is apparent in all of the incidents is that those that tried to stowaway had quick access to the airport, which signifies critical frequent safety breaches. It additionally has been established that these ill-fated Nigerians couldn’t have had entry to the restricted airside of the airport with out insider assist, which made it doable for them to sneak into the plane to fly overseas.

The 22-year-old man from Nnewi in Anambra State who stowed away in a spare compartment of Boeing B747 plane operated by Medview Airline and travelled to London from the Murtala Muhammed Worldwide Airport (MMIA), Lagos, in 2017, returned unhurt.

Safety operatives who had been confounded by the profitable entry of the stowaway to the plane, admitted that the Lagos airport and different airports within the nation had been porous and that if the stowaway had been a suicide bomber, he would have destroyed the plane together with the passengers whereas airborne to London.