By Aondowase Agabi
As exclusively reported by Economy Footprint, the Nigerian Aviation Security personnel are now bearing arms.
The Federal Government recorded the milestone in the aviation industry, with the passing out of the first set of arms-bearing Aviation Security (AVSEC) personnel on Friday.
Recall that over two years ago, the Minister said the AVSEC will begin to bear arms to respond to rising terrorism in the country. We also reported about two months ago the arms had arrived Nigeria and the staff waiting for training.
Describing the achievement as unprecedented in the promotion of national security, Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika noted that he was sure that all the graduands received the best training and are well equipped with the morals, the discipline and values that are expected from the training they received.
Dr. James Odaudu, the Special Assistant to the Minister of Aviation in a statement said the measure will increase security in the state.
Advising the newly graduated armed security personnel at a ceremony in Abuja, the Minister said, “This should come to you as a clarion call to work within the precepts of the training. This training that you have received is expected to commit you to the level of dedication that is expected in ensuring that the nation of Nigeria will not only be proud but also reap the benefits of this well-organised training.
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.
Sirika also cited an incidence at the Sokoto Airport where some political supporters forcefully entered the tarmac, stressing that these actions were clear security breaches which would have been forestalled by the AVSEC personnel if they were armed.
He assured the personnel that uniforms, armoury and other things that would enable them to discharge their responsibilities of securing and safeguarding airline officials, passengers and other airport users have been made available.
He warned that the aim, intention, training or the purpose of the arms was not to harass or intimidate innocent airport users, but to protect them, and that no misdemeanour on their part would be taken lightly. The civility of civil aviation, he said, must be upheld at all cost.
“In acceptance to be trained as aviation security personnel, you must realize that it is a privilege to serve your country at this level as the aviation industry is one place where adherence and commitment to rules and standards are applied strictly to the letter.”
The Minister also warned that the government will not tolerate conflicts with other security operatives at the airports and that what is required is collaboration and synergy between them for the safety and security of airport users and infrastructure.
“For us, our focus as a government has been to ensure that we are secure and safe at our airports. Aviation is not just about building terminals because safety is one of the most critical aspects,” Sirika noted.
He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his commitment to the development of the sector, with particular focus on safety and security, which has culminated in the realisation of the project and other legacy achievements in the industry.