Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja
The Federal Government on Thursday stated that adequately trained aviation security personnel, who would bear arms, were ready to start showing up at selected airports across the country.
It stated that with the support of the United Nations and the European Union, young men and women had been trained in counter-terrorism and other measures aimed at ensuring safety at the airports.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, who disclosed this at a forum in Abuja, noted that President Muhammadu Buhari had given approval for AVSEC officials to bear arms, adding that they would start showing up at the airports anytime from now.
He said, “There is training of senior aviation security officers in screening, counter-terrorism etc., by the European Union on a train-the-trainer basis. We need to specially recognise this and thank the United Nations and the EU member countries and our stakeholders, who had helped us to train some of our aviation security officers.
“We also thank Mr. President for we were able to secure approval from him for AVSEC to be trained and retrained, and to allow them to bear arms so that our airports will be much more secure.”
Sirika stated that it was important for aviation security officers to be armed, as he cited an instance where passengers overpowered unarmed AVSEC officers, gained entry into the tarmac of an international airport and prevented the aircraft of a foreign airline from taking off.
The minister said, “So, we are training young men and women as aviation security, we are profiling them and then we will ensure that very soon, they are experienced enough for the job.
“And I’m sure that by the end of this quarter, the first set of aviation security personnel who are well trained with different uniforms, thinking and levels of experience, supported by the UN and EU counter-terrorism and all our stakeholders will be unveiled to carry out their duties at the airports.”
Sirika explained that the move to arm AVSEC officers was aimed at complementing other agencies at the airports in addressing security threats.