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The federal government, in cognisance of terror threats in the country, has introduced new measures to restrict the movement of people, including VIPs, in sensitive parts of the five international airports in the country.
The new measures, which would take effect on May 1, 2014, require that all visitors to Nigeria, including foreign dignitaries and officials of multilateral institutions to submit themselves to immigration officers for the requisite scrutiny and clearance at the five designated international airports in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Enugu.
This was disclosed by the Presidential Committee on Security which was directed by the president to review security and screening structure set up by the federal government in 2013.
The president's Special Adviser, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Professor Sylvester Monye, who addressed journalists at the Murtala Muhammadu International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, yesterday, said the new security arrangement at the airports had become imperative because of the prevailing security situation in the country.
Monye said from May 1, no protocol officer/aide would be allowed into the arrival/baggage halls of the five international airports in Nigeria, a trend which has existed over the years and sometimes resulted in security breaches.
He said the old practice where government protocol officials, aides of dignitaries, protocol officers of private companies, unauthorised uniformed and un-uniformed military and security officials moved unhindered in restricted areas around the airport terminal would no longer be tolerated.
Monye condemned what he described as the unwholesome milling around by such personnel in the immigration and customs areas at the airports, adding that such actions would be stopped as they are regarded as a threat to national security.
The presidential aide said the new directive was issued in view of recent threats to national security, stressing that government would no longer tolerate actions and directives by government and military officials that encourage loitering by their aides and other subordinates at the airports.
Monye noted that government would effectively implement the new security measures without regard for the status of anybody who flouts its implementation.
He said security agencies at the airports had been mobilised to arrest any violator of the new measures, which are aimed at bringing sanity to the airports and would encourage easy facilitation for travelling passengers.
The Presidential Committee on Security has representatives from the police, Office of the National Security Adviser, the army, air force, Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Department of State Security (DSS), Nigerian Immigration Service, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC).
The committee said it was building cohesion for information gathering which would enhance information sharing among security agencies with emphasis on passenger profiling and security tracking of passengers.
The Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation has already issued circulars to the respective stakeholders on the implementation of the directive and has also notified the airlines which were directed to sensitise passengers on the new development.
Monye reiterated that there would be no sacred cows in the implementation of the new security measures, adding that senior public officials, including governors would be arrested if they violate the rules.
Monye disclosed that although convoys would be allowed at the airports, all persons in the convoy must abide by the terms of engagement, as any attempt to block the access way to the airports would be met with stiff sanctions.
“Over the years, it was the practice of government protocol officials, aides of dignitaries, protocol officers of private companies, unauthorised uniformed military and security officials to move unhindered in restricted areas of our airports.
“This unwholesome milling around in the immigration and customs areas is a threat to national security. The idea is to stop all those not supposed to be within the precincts of our airports from using such facilities for loitering,” Monye said.