Stowaways-Expose Our Selective Amnesia To A Myriad Of Vulnerabilities in Airport Security.
Emmanuel Ugochukwu may be unknown, or a name many cannot even pronounce correctly. However, the 21 years old Nigerian dare devil if you may, his successful stowaway escapade of July 1, 2017, from Lagos to London on a Boeing B747 aircraft operated by Medview Airlines. Says a lot about the various AVSEC vulnerabilities many keep sweeping under the carpet. The need to wake up to the realities of today’s AVSEC challenges, treating them with the seriousness they deserve and above all else the need for responsible policing by all in the industry.
According to Nigeria’s Sun Newspaper story of 17th July 2017, Nigeria security and regulatory officials initially denied Ugochukwu’s feat, as would any case from my experience as an AVSEC professional be, where catching authorities with their pants down is concerned. The authorities it looks were without doubt, more stunned by the possibility of his survival on the almost 12hour journey to and from Lagos to London, than on the vulnerabilities exposed by the young man and how he was able to beat all security institutions at the airport to board the flight, albeit illegally.
However, it later turned out that contrary to earlier reports that Ugochukwu hid himself in the nose wheel of the aircraft as most stowaways do, he had actually sneaked into the spares compartment of the aircraft, where engineers keep their equipment, spares and tools. The story as filed by one Louis Ibah, goes on to point out sentiments that, the major worry as expressed by most air travellers, in Nigeria is that had Ugochukwu been a terrorists sent from Boko Haram, or an unhappy or demented Nigerian laced with dynamites or a bomb.
Then judging by the ease in which he gained entrance into the airport, and onto the aircraft, nothing possibly could have prevented him from blowing off the Medview Boeing B747 aircraft and killing all passenger and crew. To some the event sadly, occurred at a time when Nigeria is supposedly preparing the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos for a safety audit and certification by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
No Nigerian airport is ICAO certified and the Medview Airline incident raises a fundamental question on the safety of Nigerian airports.