Immigration says private jet operators constitute weak link to security

By The Citizen

The Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mr David Parradang has ordered officers at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos to henceforth subject operators and users of private jets to rigorous scrutiny, describing their operations as weak link to the security of the country.

Parradang decried the prevailing situation whereby passengers on chartered and private jet operations at the Fixed Base Operations (private terminals) were allowed to board their aircraft without proper security checks and when they arrive they disembark and walk into their cars parked at the tarmac without proper security checks, describing such situation as gross security lapse which could lead to tragic consequences in the country if allowed to continue.

'The last thing I want to see here is what happens at our private aircraft operations. That is a very important security leg of this country. We want to put our eyes there. We want to know who are coming to the private terminals. Who come there who use the services, what they come in with? We have to check and make sure that the place is secure. Not the situation where aircraft will come and you disembark from the aircraft and enter your car on the tarmac without security checks. I want to see for myself what is happening there. I want to go there. Government is very, very particular about that. We want to know because security is a major issue in Nigeria; the weakest link is what will do all of us in,' Parradang said

The Comptroller General who made this known on Friday when inspecting facilities at the Lagos airport also threatened to summarily dismiss any Immigration officer who was involved in fraudulent practices, including soliciting for bribes from passengers and urged any Nigerian who sees such a person to pick his name from his tag and report him to Immigration officials.

'I am not thoroughly satisfied with the news I have been getting from the airport here. They say that we beg at this airport. I think we render more honourable service than that. That is why I said let me come and see for myself. And I have people call me when they arrive here to say that arrivals hall was chaotic; that is just like a market; I want to see this for myself, too. Any officer caught soliciting for money from anybody will be dismissed and if you see such a person report him to me,' the Controller General also said.

NIS said that since Last month over 361 persons have been deported into the country through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, with 51 of such persons brought in aboard chartered jets.

Immigration also said 23 airlines owe the Nigeria Immigration Service over $548,000 (about N87.7 million) as fine for 48 passengers classified as inadmissible persons that were airlifted by airlines. The immigration boss also disclosed that the service had in the last few months witnessed about two stowaway into aircraft at the Lagos Airport.

Parradang bemoaned a situation where security agencies at the airport were alleged to be involved in extortion of passengers, insisting an internal mechanism was being put in place to identify such bag eggs, who do not have any business working at the airport.

He also spoke of collaboration with other agencies including the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to provide more facilities that would ease passenger facilitation after many hours of flight, adding that Immigration would deploy more facilities at the airport at the counters to facilitate the smooth processing of passengers through a database already linked to the agency's server.

He explained that the IT system deployed by Immigration could profile passengers with their travel history and all the necessary security information needed to secure the airports and the country.