A male passenger screaming “Allahu Akbar” in an air borne Arik plane scared passengers.
The Ministry of Aviation and Arik Air have both denied that there was a suicide bomber on a domestic flight on Tuesday.
Rumours had spread on social media that a suicide bomber was caught while trying to detonate a bomb on an Arik flight from Maiduguri in Borno State, to Abuja.
But the Aviation Minister, through her Special Adviser on Media, Joe Obi, said the rumour is not true.
Mr. Obi said the passenger plane landed in Abuja safely and that nothing incriminating was found on the passenger, Aminu Galadima, who caused the hoax.
“A passenger, Aminu Galadima, an indigene of Minna, Niger state boarded a Maiduguri – Abuja bound Arik Air aircraft with registration number 5N MJE. After going through all mandatory security screening, nothing incriminating, no explosives or weapons whatsoever were found on him.
“However, mid air the passenger began to act strangely, loudly screaming ”God is Great”. Fellow passengers, alarmed by this behaviour rushed to apprehend him. A thorough search by fellow passengers and crew members revealed nothing dangerous on him,” Mr. Obi said.
Mr. Obi said the pilot immediately radioed Air Traffic Control and airport security operatives. He said the passenger has been arrested by men of the State Security Service, SSS, for further interrogation; and assured the public of their safety in the nation’s airspace while cautioning Nigerians on spreading rumours.
“The plane landed safely at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at exactly 1253 hrs and the suspect handed over to the SSS at about 1445 hrs where he is currently being interrogated,” Mr. Obi said.
The spokesperson for Arik Air, Adebanji Ola, also confirmed Mr. Obi’s statements.
He said the search carried out on the suspect showed he had nothing incrimination on him.
“Arik Air wishes to assure guests that all its flights undergo strict security checks and passengers have nothing to fear.
“The airline’s Aviation Security Department is one the most sophisticated in the industry and its commitment to security and safety of passengers is second to none in Africa,” Mr. Ola said.
He trumpeted the airline’s security achievements saying the airline “just last weekend in Accra, Ghana won the award of the Best Security and Safety Conscious Airline in West and Central Africa.”