11th September, 2013
The announcement last weekend by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, that it had arrested an airport luggage thief by installing additional security gadgets at the Lagos airport is commendable.
By arresting Okereobode Chinwendu on 2 September, FAAN was able to unravel thieves behind the disappearance of passengers’ luggage at the Murtala Muhammed International airport in Lagos.
Authorities said investigation began on 19 July when FAAN’s Aviation Security Service, AVSEC, received a report of pilferage from an Emirate Airlines flight. Officials began inspecting the footage from the aircraft’s bulk hold’s close circuit television (CCTV) showing the reported pilfering in progress.
Chinwendu was identified in the footage and apprehended. He was an employee of Check Port Security, the official airline security company of Emirate Airlines. He later confessed to giving Oriola Afeez, a NAHCO staff, who is still at large, the permission to go ahead with pilfering on the parked aircraft, while he gave him protection.
Chiwendu, who was charged with conspiracy and stealing, was last Friday sentenced to six months in prison while police officers are on the trail of the NAHCO staff involved. The arrest has confirmed long held belief that pilfering gangs are mainly cargo handling agents and airline security officials who operate from inside parked aircraft, contrary to the assumption that pilfering is done inside the terminal.
We commend security officials on the arrest and the installation of seven new X-ray scanning machines at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport.
Five of the machines have been installed at the cargo basement of the international terminal, one at the Hajj and Cargo terminal and another at the airport’s Domestic Terminal 1.
We call on the authorities to beef up security at all other airports in the country to reduce or eradicate theft and luggage pilfering there. We also call on Check Port Security, Chinwendu’s employers, to stop paying graduates they employ as security officials paltry salaries.
After collecting huge sums of money from the airlines, Check Port Security pays its graduates pittance as salaries.
The poor salaries lead some of them to live miserably in the midst of plenty and engage in theft.
Airline business is a serious business where safety comes first. All these should be done for safe and secure airports in Nigeria. It is only when passengers feel safe and secure and are not afraid of losing their valuables that air travel could be attractive to them.