NIGERIA, like all member states of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), has been urged to model their procedures according to the ICAO annexes and to develop their operational programmes/documents in accordance with their national laws and regulations.

Mr Ayo Obilana, Chief Executive Officer of Selective Security International, said the focus and purpose of facilitating and securing civil aviation was to ensure seamless safe passage and free flow of passengers, their baggage and cargo through airport facilities after established global method.

Presenting a paper on ‘Challenges To Passenger Facilitation Process in The Aviation Security Regime’ at a conference hosted by Aviation Round Table (ART), Obilana listed the templates on aviation facilitation and security operations, including: definitions of facilitation and security, objectives of both civil aviation facilitation and security and an appropriate or designated authority responsible for processes and procedures.

Speaking about the guidance and compliance, the security expert stated that the focus and purpose of facilitating and securing civil aviation was to ensure seamless safe passage and free flow of passengers, their baggage and cargo through airport facilities according to the established global procedure .

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According to him, “The process is expected to have sufficient uncompromising layers of security in all ramifications. It is a permanent airport process during normal or favorable periods, but also during unfavorable periods, especially during the occurrence of flight disruption or delay.”

From the airline’s operational perspective, Obilana said the process involved in facilitating airports takes cognizance of acceptable international standards and practices, taking advantage of factors such as timely departures and arrivals of airlines, fast and efficient immigration/ customs/health protocols and reduction and or elimination of airport congestion.

Contrary to the many and unnecessary checks/rules that exist at Lagos airport, he quoted that over 15 such checks exist on departure and a minimum of 5 on arrival, compared to 2 or 3 in the US and others countries for international travelers.

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Obilana, who said that for seamless airport passage, there must be a balancing act between facilitation and the security procedures without one overriding the other, stated: “Therefore, the regime must also ensure coordination and cooperation between airport agencies and the authority that is legal assigned for the execution of the process in all facets. The facilitation process must also ensure that the security layers in the process itself are not compromised.

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“Security layers of airport operations must be strictly enforced, especially as aviation continues to be a prime target for perpetrators of illegal acts. And things should not be taken for granted, so screening and other security measures should be adhered to with acceptable international standards.

Such operations, he said, should include enhanced layers of security on: passenger screening to acceptable international standards, passport control by border security officers and other API-enabled LEO with airline and handlers who need to fulfill their responsibilities quickly as needed in processing passengers dropping out with analog mindsets.

However, drawing on the situation and experience in Nigeria, the security expert mainly recognizes those who provide security and facilitation services, but called for more room for improvement.

“The existing anomalous situation has been continuously present for decades, creating numerous challenges related to delays, gaps, hurdles and sometimes congestion at Nigeria’s international airports. They hinder and negatively impact the airport facilitation process and security operations.”

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