The security apparatus at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos was on Tuesday once again called to question as a private jet owned by Vistajet was attacked on the runway of the airport.
Information gathered by SaharaReporters revealed that the jet with the registration number 9H-VFA operated by EAN on December 12 2017 was attacked on the runway18R of the airport by unknown bandits when taxiing to the hangar of Evergreen Apple Nigeria (EAN) Ltd. The jet was arriving from Istanbul between 2110-2130hrs after landing in Lagos.
A source close to EAN confided in SaharaReporters correspondent that the pilot of the jet Captain Emma Heering discovered that the rear door of the aircraft was opened while taxiing to the hangar of EAN.
After an investigation, it was discovered that a big black bag belonging to the air hostess, Francesca Louis was missing from the jet.
The source told SaharaReporters correspondent that it was not the first time such an incident would be happening at the airport.
Earlier in the year, some bandits allegedly opened the door of a small aircraft from the rear that was taxiing on the runway and escaped with some belongings of some of the occupants.
The investigation further revealed that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) responsible for airport security has only one operational vehicle escorting aircraft that lands on the runway, but at times, there might not be any operational vehicle on the ground to monitor aircraft that is taxiing to the apron for arriving aircrafts.
It was reported that this particular jet with call sign VT584 was not escorted by any operational vehicle as at the time of the incident due to lack of any operational vehicles at the airside of the airport, a situation, which made the criminal act to be perpetrated with ease on the said day.
An airline source speaking anonymously with SaharaReporters said: “What actually happened was that when the aircraft was taxiing to the hangar of EAN, the cabin crew discovered that the rear door was opened. So, when the jet taxied to the hangar, it was discovered that one big black bag belonging to their air hostesses was missing. An alarm was raised, but no one could trace the bandit who had forced the door open while taxiing.
“It is bad that this is happening in an airport, which was recently certified by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has scaling security and safety hurdle. The government should look at the incident and several others that have been happening in the airside because this is not the first time such a thing would be happening at the airport and several others across the country.”
Besides, a similar incident had occurred on Med-View Airline when a stowaway passenger scaled the fence of the airport to enter the wheel well of the Boeing 777 aircraft of the airline to London. The stowaway told security agencies that he had scaled the fence of the airport and spent days waiting to board the aircraft ostensibly with the aid of unscrupulous airport officials.
The stowaway could not, however, disembark from the plane in London and had to be brought back to Lagos before he was discovered by one of the security personnel at the airport.
Till date, FAAN could not explain how the stowaway successfully gained entrance into the aircraft.
It would be recalled that the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos was certified in September this year by Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority of Nigeria (NCAA) after 38 years of opening the airport.
The safety and security certification awarded the airport by NCAA had however received some scepticisms from stakeholders and security experts in the sector.
Security analysts have repeatedly stated that the airport may not have met all the safety requirements to ensure its certification especially in the area of insurance cover and security.
Experts had said that for any airport to be certified, according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) minimal standard, such an airport must have adequate maintenance and security programmes in place.
The security expert insisted that airport certification was not about the terminal building, but the facilities installed at such airport, including navigational aids provided by the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA).
With the Tuesday incident, the certification of the airport by NCAA has further raised questions about its authenticity.