A former director-general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Dr. Olusegun Harold Demuren, has reiterated how the 2009 attempted bombing of a United States-bound aircraft by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian underwear bomber, was the worst period of his career. time with the regulatory authority.
This is exactly as he stated that the sad incident led to increased security at the country’s airports, especially the international airports, as the security layers in Nigeria were increased by the US from seven to twenty.
Abdulmutallab, had attempted to shoot down a US commercial plane bound for Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 on Christmas Day 2009 while attempting to detonate a bomb hidden in his underwear.
Speaking at the second 2022 Breakfast Business Meeting hosted by Aviation Round Table (ART) in Lagos on the theme: ‘Perspective in Multi-Layer Aviation Security System and Passenger Facilitation’, Demuren, who was the Director General of NCAA at the time of the incident told in his keynote speech how the then minister of aviation, Mr. Babatunde Omotoba, drew his attention to the incident.
Demuren called for cooperation and cooperation between the security services in the sector for a better security system, stating: “Until the 1980s, there were no major aviation security challenges in Africa. Then came the 1993 Nigerian Airways Hijack (Lagos-Abuja Flight, diverted to Niamey, Niger Republic). This was followed by the 9/11 attack in the US, which changed the face of aviation security in the world. Layers upon layers of security were introduced in the US.
“In Nigeria, we had the 2010 Umar Farouk Abdul-Mutallab bombing failed on KLM/NorthWest Airline. Following this incident, the NCAA ordered enhanced multi-layer security measures at our airports, including body scanners.”
Demuren, who went down memory lane, explaining how Omotoba woke him in the middle of the night to tell him the incident, noted, however, that the installation of modern equipment at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, revealed the complete activities of Abdulmutallab at the airport to the security team.
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According to him, the Closed Circuit Television Camera (CCTV) CCTV footage provided by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) at the airport had freed Nigeria from complacency in the heinous crime as Nigeria was able to obtain all the necessary documents. as requested by the US, leading to the removal of Nigeria from the blacklisted countries by the US.
“The Abdulmutallab incident was the saddest day of my life as a DG NCAA. In the middle of the night I was woken up by the Minister of Aviation who told me to go watch the news. It was all over the news that a Nigerian wanted to kill Americans, but the CCTV footage saved us. When asked to provide us with evidence, we were able to show it to the US and what we had then, some major airlines didn’t have them.
“At this point I would like to appreciate the contribution of the various agencies at the airport, especially FAAN for providing the CCTV images. The Nigerian Immigration Department entering and exiting the airport in detail, and the MAVIS for providing information on the Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) and others. These were pieces of information the NCAA used to remove Nigeria’s name from the US Country of Interest Watchlist.
Similarly, key industry players have called on all security forces to work together in synergy to prevent terrorist attacks in the sector, even as they insisted the sector was still safe from flight operations.