Nigeria suspends top airport officials over Turkish Airlines fiasco

Turkish Airlines

The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has ordered the suspension of three top officials of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, over the recent incident involving Turkish Airlines at the airport.

Mr. Sirika disclosed this on Sunday in Abuja while briefing journalists after listening to explanations by the airport officials on the incident.

He added that the ministry had also ordered thorough investigation to ascertain the cause of the breach, as well as why the airline brought in passengers without their luggage.

The suspended officials, according to him, are the Airport Manager, Terminal Manager and Head of Airport Security, who were ordered to hand over to their next in rank pending the conclusion of the investigation.

The minister said the explanation by the officials of the airport that the security personnel on duty were overpowered was not acceptable, ordering for thorough investigation into the incident.

He stated that the actions of the passengers, forcing their ways into the tarmac and blocking the aircraft from taking off was a security breach which must not be condoned.

“There has been an unfortunate incident where some agitated passengers of the Turkish Airlines arrived without their luggage making them to force their way into the tarmac which is a breach of security.

“The explanation given is not satisfactory because the primary purpose of the government is to ensure safety of lives and property of its citizens.

“The cardinal objective of this administration is to secure the country and manage it and we cannot fail in aviation and we cannot fail in this important assignment at a very important point.

“We have ordered for the investigation into the matter immediately and all the people that are manning the various places; Airport Manager, Terminal Manager and Head of Security, should handover to the next man in rank pending the outcome of the investigation.

“As to the airline also, the Consumer Protection Unit of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has been ordered to find out what happened, how compliant they are and deal with it accordingly,” he said.

Mr. Sirika said the ministry was yet to get the flight manifest to be able to ascertain the number of passengers involved.

According to him, the passengers got agitated and got access into the prohibited area because there was security lapse.

The minister stated that the nation’s aviation sector had the capacity to grow, adding that it was already showing signal that it could tremendously contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

According to him, aviation is carrying by value, 31 per cent of the world cargo which makes it a very important industry as the fastest means of transportation.

“With specific to Nigeria, you could see how we grew from Kano Airport where the first plane landed in the country to about 22 Federal Government owned airports plus several other private owned airports.

“On the whole, aviation I can say has grown to an appreciable level in the country and it has the capacity to grow more which is important to the economy of the country,” he said.

Mr. Sirika added that the country also had good manpower such as pilots and engineers to move the industry forward.

He disclosed that the government was determined to deliver a more vibrant and efficient aviation sector in 2016 by making safety, security and efficiency its watch word with regards to transportation.

“It is not about the beauty of the airports or planting flowers or other vanities, it is about safety, security and efficiency as far as aviation is concerned,’’ he said.

Earlier, Bashir Hausawa, Acting Head of Security, explained to the minister that the security personnel were overpowered by the angry passengers over the non-arrival of their luggage.

Mr. Hausawa added that the shortage of manpower was responsible for the incident, adding that there was only one man manning luggage area of the airport during the incident.

He said they were 192 security men manning the whole of the airport resulting in the shortage of manpower distribution to various units.



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  • arewethishopeless

    At least those in charge are beginning to appreciate the depth of the rot in this safety-critical industry. The push to change things must start from the top.

    Any personnel not motivated by professionalism should be sent packing. We shouldn’t waste time and energy on people who do not want to change and shouldn’t be there in the first place. We have a long journey ahead of us to change the way things are done at our airports and hopefully, one day … we can go onto the next stage …. being Africa’s number one hub for air travel.

    • Otile

      La Illah illala Mohammadu Rasulla. Mutum Muslumi barka da Id-El-Maulud
      Nabiyi. Ina kwana? Where have you been recently? We suffered 2 massacres, one at Onitsha, another at Zaria, but
      nobody heard from you. Did you not hear our cry or what? It seems the manipulation going on at the Turkish Airlines is more important to you than the lives of people. I
      thought you were a good Muslim man.

  • Invictus

    Very weak excuse! Out of 192 men, only one was manning the baggage area— and when situation was getting out of control, men could not be moved from other areas to temporarily deal with the situation? This could have been some terrorist wanting to blow-up the entire airport! The aggrieved passenger have in fact helped to simulate a scenario which clearly shows security at the airport is out of control of the all the security agencies and management of the airport. They are highly irresponsible and inefficient. All they do is harass innocent travellers and blackmailing them to extract money. Good decision to make the heads hand-over to the next man. There should be accountability…