Last week, the House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on the federal government and, indeed, the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to buy and install scanners immediately at the airports of the country.
Following Hon’s adoption of the motion of urgent national importance, the directive was given. The unanimous approval of Ossai Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta).
It’s not the first time in the National Assembly that the question of scanners has appeared. Earlier this year, Nigerian Commission Member in Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa (then Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Relations and Diaspora) had reported that scanners were not functioning optimally at some of the Nigerian airports.
The former senator who called this to the attention of the Senate’s ad-hoc panel to investigate circumstances that led to Ms Zainab Aliyu’s detention in Saudi Arabia in December 2018 over the planting in her luggage of a controlled drug, Tramadol.
Although testifying before the ad-hoc panel, Dabiri-Erewa alleged that at international airports across the country, some foreign airlines are operating drug cartels in connivance with some Nigerians. “We work with local partners. It’s not Air Love, it’s not Arik Air, “she said.
Likewise, the Federal Airport Authority (FAAN) airport security chief, Alhaji El-Yakub Lamir, also surprised the panel when he announced that scanners, especially at Aminu Kano International Airport, were not designed for drug detection.
He said that at the point of entry and departure, there were 15 security agents involved in inspecting baggage, but due to public criticism, they were reduced in number.
This situation shows that the question of scanner absence or non-functionality at either the airports or seaports of the country is genuine and needs to be investigated. And just before the 2019 general election, Finance Minister Ms Zainab Ahmed was confirmed to have announced that the federal government had paid for hi-tech scanners, which she said would be distributed on a Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis to seaports and airports.
According to her, “We have acquired some scanners and there are hi-tech scanners that have been paying for, but we are waiting for shipment and the first launch to the major ports will be produced. We’re going to buy more and part of the single window phase is that there’s going to be a company offering scanners in all major seaports and major airports. They’re going to run on Built, Operate and Transfer (BOT) and they’re going to leave.
Just last Tuesday, Nigeria Immigration Service Controller General Alhaji Muhammed Babandede declared that the federal government has installed border control system, the Migration Intelligence Data Analysis System (MIDAS) at three international airports, 14 land and two sea boundaries to track irregular migration, trafficking in human beings and other cross-border crimes.