Hadi Sirika, Minister of State for Aviation, says Aviation Security (AVSEC) personnel of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) will start bearing arms within the next three months.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Sirika made the disclosure on Thursday at the 5th Aviation Stakeholders Forum in Abuja.
“Within the next three months, we will get the FAAN AVSEC to start bearing arms like their counterparts in the Transportation Security Agency of the United States, ” he said.
The minister recalled the Turkish Airline incident in 2016 where some aggrieved passengers overpowered AVSEC officials at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, and gained access to the tarmac.
Mr Sirika also cited the recent occurrence at Sokoto Airport where some political supporters forcefully entered the tarmac, stressing that these actions were clear security breaches.
He said the personnel would be provided with new uniforms, sniffer dogs and other things that would enable them discharge their responsibilities of securing and safe guarding airline officials, passengers and other airport users.
“So, for us, our focus is to ensure that we are secured and safe. Aviation is not just about building terminals because safety is one of the most critical aspect,” Mr Sirika noted.
The minister said Nigeria scored 96.45 per cent in the last International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Universal Security Audit.
He said the country also attained level three out of the four levels of ICAO Safety Audit, thereby moving it from red to green which was a good way of attracting investors to the sector.
Mr Sirika said the Federal Government had consolidated on these achievements by the successful Certification of the Abuja and Lagos airports as well as the ongoing processes to certify the Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu airports.
Earlier, Sabiu Zakari, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, noted that the forum was aimed at interacting with the various stakeholders in the aviation industry and how to address the prevailing challenges.