By Kayode Tokede
The management of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and Department of State Services (DSS) have disagreed over reported of assault on aviation security at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
FAAN on Wednesday through its verified twitter handle announced the assault of an aviation security staff by the head of the Director, DSS, Mr. Safiyanu Abba who stopped him from searching a visitor who walked through the metal detector activating the alarm.
The FAAN in a tweet titled: Breach of security procedure and assault on AVSEC Officer by Head of DSS at the International Terminal of NAIA Abuja said,”We note with dismay that Mr Safiyanu Abba, the Head of DSS at NAIA deliberately obstructed airport security process and slapped an aviation security officer who was performing his duty by calling on Mr. Safiyanu Abba to resist from doing so.”
“This happened on the 17th of July at about 15:25 hours. He breached security procedure by obstructing further searching of a visitor who had just walked through the metal detector as activated the alarms.
“The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria strongly condemns this abuse of power and the security process in our airports, this has been duly escalated.
In a swift response, the DSS dismissed report of assault on an official of the FAAN by its Head of Formation at the Abuja International Airport.
The Public Relations Officer of DSS, Dr Peter Afunanya in a statement said that FAAN had also accused its official of breaching security protocol at the Airport, adding that it had not been established that any FAAN staff was assaulted.
Afunanya said DSS personnel were well mannered and could not have slapped or fought a worker of another agency.
He said the news, as reported in some sections of the media, had left an impression that was not factual.
The public relations officer, therefore, called on the public to disregard the report.
According to him, for the record, no DSS staff fought or engaged in any acts prejudicial to discipline or inimical to public safety at the airport under reference.
“In line with its statutory duties, the Service recognises the Airports as one of the country’s most important assets and has remained at the forefront of protecting them and other critical ones.
“It takes their security seriously and cannot breach it. As a strategic partner, the Service holds FAAN and its staff in good esteem.
“Both agencies have, over time, enjoyed robust working relationship in the areas of training and exchange programmes,” he said.
According to him, there are other avenues than the social media to resolve any misunderstanding among staff of two agencies that have had long history of unity of purpose in the execution of their mandates.
He said the service had high value for effective interagency collaboration needed to achieve positive outcomes for good of the country.
Afunanya urged travellers to go about their normal businesses as the Service, in conjunction with relevant authorities including FAAN, were committed to their safety.
Recall that FAAN is dealing with two similar circumstances involving other high profile Nigerians it alleged of infractions on the rules and guidelines for air passengers and airport users.
The first incident occurred on Saturday, July 11, 2020, at the Aminu Kano International Airport, when the former governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, declined to adhere to the Port Health protocols and procedures.
The second incident occurred on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, when the Governor of Adamawa State, Alhaji Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, arrived at the Port Harcourt International Airport, in the company of eight other passengers. He also fragrantly refused to observe the airport security and port health protocols.
Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika had declared such unruly behaviour may warrant criminal prosecution and invoke a jail term from 2 months.
Industry watchers are however baffled by this ugly trend with many wondering who will prosecute the prosecutors as the DSS head has been caught in the same laws he is want to uphold.