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Mixed Opinions Arise Over FAAN’s Introduction of Armed Guards at Airports

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has initiated the deployment of armed Aviation Security (AVSEC) officers across the country's international airports, a move that has generated mixed reactions. Opinions are divided on this development, with varying perspectives on the increasing presence of armed security personnel at these airports.

Some aviation security experts expressed concerns that the presence of gun-wielding officers might not be well-received by foreign travelers who have a phobia for guns, potentially affecting their travel experience and psyche.


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However, other experts argued that the security measures are justified, citing a series of incidents in the 1980s and 1990s that necessitated such precautions. They believe that the deployment of armed guards is a necessary response to past security breaches and threats.

Group Captain John Ojikutu (retired), Chief Executive Officer of Centurion Security and Safety Consults, emphasized that aviation security should not focus solely on the multiplication or application of arms. According to him, effective aviation security revolves around profiling and screening processes, and armed personnel should only be involved when breaches occur as part of a contingency plan.

He explained: “From the beginning to the end, it is profiling and screening. It is only when you have breaches that you can now bring them [armed officers] in. It is in the contingency plan. Every airport has a contingency plan for aviation security.”

Ojikutu criticized the widespread presence of armed personnel at airports, noting that various agencies, including Customs, Immigration, and the Department of State Services (DSS), all carry arms, which could lead to confusion and conflicts. He pointed out that if an incident were to occur involving multiple armed agencies, it could result in dangerous confrontations.

He highlighted that real aviation security focuses on screening carry-on luggage, check-in baggage, and cargo, rather than relying on armed presence. He warned that the current situation, where many security personnel at airports carry guns, is contrary to international aviation security practices.


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Conversely, Dr. Ayodele Obilana, another aviation security expert, supported the deployment of armed guards, stating that it aligns with global practices. He explained that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) expects states to deploy armed guards at airports due to the history of security incidents. He argued that aviation remains a prime target for security threats because it brings together people from diverse nationalities and cultures.

Obilana remarked: “According to ICAO, states are expected to deploy armed guards, following a series of incidents in the 80s and 90s. It is part of the life we live all over the world because aviation remains a prime target.”

In conclusion, the FAAN’s decision to deploy armed AVSEC officers at international airports has sparked a debate among aviation security experts. While some argue that the presence of armed personnel could deter potential threats, others believe that the focus should be on effective screening and profiling processes. The balance between ensuring security and maintaining a welcoming environment for travelers remains a critical consideration for airport authorities.

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