The Federal Government Friday disclosed that it has commenced the procurement of arms for Aviation Security (AVSEC) personnel.
The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika said this in Abuja during the graduation ceremony of 35 AVSEC personnel who underwent Counter Terrorism Training organised by the United Nations.
The 35 graduands who are master trainers would train aviation security experts in two training centres that will be established in Lagos and Zaria.
The training will afford them opportunity to deliver and sustain high standard of aviation security screening across Nigeria’s civil aviation infrastructure.
On why they need to carry arms, the minister gave an instance where Turkish airline passengers took to the tarmac to protest their luggage that was left in Istanbul.
On the carrying of arms by AVSEC personnel, Sirika said: “I wrote a memo to President Buhari and also informed members of the Council that I want to reorganise aviation security and make them arms bearing wing of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).
“The passengers took to the tarmac because we have a very weak and incapacitated Aviation security. AVSEC personnel’s mind and soul are strong enough but they have not been given the equipment that would support them to discharge their duties.
“They will be civil, very harmless, they won’t interfere with any process, they would be at the background but they would be fully ready and alert to respond to any emergency at the airport.
On the procurement of arms, Sirika said: “We have already commenced the process of procuring arms and we are putting structures in place.
“You know it is not just about giving arms to personnel and it’s use, the personnel has to be selected, has to be the right person, he has to have the right psychology and he must master the arts and signs of use of weapons, he has to understand that he is a civil Force and learn to use arms at the right. It is not an easy thing but we will get it done”
He also assured Nigerians, the UN, aviation communities and the world that the ministry would be alive to responsibilities.
Speaking in a pre-recorded tape, the Director of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre, Dr. Jehangir Khan said the training demonstrates the willingness and the continued effort of Nigeria to battle terrorism and protect the people of Nigeria.
On the essence of the training, he said: “it is designed to improve aviation security at all airports throughout Nigeria, through a more efficient security screening process for all passengers, in accordance with the international standards required by the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) and the European Union.
“The project will contribute directly to the Nigerian Government’s overall counter-terrorism strategy by helping to mitigate the threat posed to civil aviation by terrorist organizations and their operatives.
“It also contributes to the implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolution 2309 adopted on 22 September 2016, which calls on Member States to take all necessary efforts to improve and protect aviation security worldwide.”