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PRESIDENCY ORDERS INVESTIGATION INTO CALABAR AIRPORT INCIDENT

By NBF NEWS
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The Presidency on Thursday through the office of the National Security Adviser ordered for an investigation into how a taxi rammed into a parked Arik aircraft at the Margaret Ekpo International Airport, Calabar on Wednesday.

A taxi driver had reportedly broken two gates of the airport supposedly manned by Air Force officials, and headed straight to the tarmac, where it hit the underbelly of an Abuja-bound aircraft that was about taking off with 95 passengers on board.

A statement issued by the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Aviation Matters, Captain Shehu Iyal, read in part, 'Requisite agencies and airport authorities are already briefing the National Security Adviser on this very condemnable breach at the Calabar airport. The Presidency is assuring that maximum penalty shall be meted out to concerned persons or airport authorities if any form of dereliction of duty is established as a causative factor in the very embarrassing Calabar airport incident.'

Meanwhile, the Assistant General Secretary, Airlines Operators of Nigeria, Alhaji Tukur Muhammed, during the press briefing has also called on the Federal Government to make through investigations into the incident.

The AON official said the incident should not be dismissed under the pretext that the taxi driver was 'insane.'

He said that airlines would not tolerate a situation where their aircraft was damaged for any flimsy reason.

Airline passengers on Thursday expressed serious concern for their safety, following the incident.

While describing the incident as incredible, some of the passengers blamed the development on the failure of security agencies to guarantee the safety of lives and properties.

It was observed that following the development, security which hitherto was minimal at the airport, has been enhanced.

Our correspondent also sighted policemen searching the taxi used in the aborted operation on Thursday for possible evidence that could disclose the mission of the suspect.

It was learnt that the damaged car was later taken to the state police command in Calabar while the suspect was said to be in the custody of its the Criminal Investigation Department.

Also, air force officers on Thursday placed drums at strategic points on the road to check movement of vehicles.

Security operatives were also seen advising motorists on the use of the entrance and exit routes of the airport, which were hitherto overlooked.

But some passengers who spoke to our correspondent at the departure lounge blamed security officials for reacting to issues instead of taking proactive measures to check them.

One of them who pleaded anonymity said, 'I am just imagining what would have happened if that man just had petrol and matches or anything that could ignite a flame.'

All efforts by our correspondent to get reactions from security officials at the airport proved abortive as it was learnt that they had received directives from their headquarters not to comment on the issue.

Also, the Airport Manager, Alhaji Sanni Mamud, failed to comment on the development.

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Cross River State Command, Mr. Etim Dickson, said he was on a routine inspection of police formation in the state along with the state Police Commissioner, Mr. Ahmed Ibrahim, when the incident occurred.