Union wants FG to recall Air Force Personnel at the airports arrival and departure lounges nationwide over excesses and harassment of members
Stories: Anthony Awunor
Airport workers under the aegis of Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) staged a protest at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos calling on the Federal Government to remove all Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Personnel at the airports arrival and departure lounges nationwide.
The unions on Monday gave government 21 – days ultimatum failure of which it would ground activities in the sector .
The ultimatum came barely one month after an official of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN), Mohammed Shuaibu was beaten into stupor by some Nigerian Air Force officers in charge of traffic control at the departure section of the international terminal wing of Murtala Muhammed Airport, LagosThe unions members assembled at the Freedom Square at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN headquarters before matching to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, (MMIA), Lagos on a protest march chanting solidarity songs in honour of the FAAN staff that was molested by officials of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF).
Many of them carried placards with various inscriptions such as “Federal Government, Save our souls from Air Force Officers at the Airports”, “We want Aviation Security Personnel to be in charge of security alone at our airports” amongst other.
Speaking on the protest , Deputy General Secretary, National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), Comrade Olayinka Abioye said that the unions were embarking on a peaceful protest to demand the removal of Nigerian Air Force Personnel at the various airports across the country within 21 days stressing that if the government fails to heed the demand of the workers, the aviation industry will be grounded by the unions
Abioye said “In the first instance, Air Force Personnel mounting road blocks at our airports are unknown to the International Civil Aviation Organisation rules. Annex 17 of the ICAO convention stipulates who should be in charge of aviation and it is the Aviation Security Personnel (AVSEC), they have a full fledge functional directorate in FAAN and they are supposed to be doing these things, they have the primary responsibility for the maintenance of security at the airports”.
“The aviation unions and its entire membership decided to embark on a peaceful protest today to show solidarity to a staff of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) who was brutalised and beaten to a state of coma some few days ago by four personnels of the Nigerian Air Force attached to the Murtala Muhammed International Airpoort, (MMIA), Lagos”.
“We felt it is necessary to draw the attention of the government to this brutality and call for the prosecution of these four personnels who are involved and as a matter of fact, this is not the first time that such a thing is happening, it has been a regular occurrence, the last time, about two months ago, it was a woman CSP that was assaulted with slaps followed by the killing of another person at the General Aviation Terminal (GAT) and so on and so forth. So we felt there should be a stop to this impunity” he noted.
According to Comrade Abioye, the efforts by the government to bring other security personnel to the airport like Air Force, Civil Defence Corp were secondary as it was only AVSEC that has the primary responsibility of maintaining security at the various airports across the country.
He further accused the Nigerian Air Force Airport Commandant for the inhuman behaviours of his men noting that he was the one that was giving them the go ahead to do such things.
“Ensuring security at the airport is not a ticket to brutalise workers, it is not an avenue to extort money from passengers the way they do and you know one funny thing that happen there under the very nose of the Airport Commandant is the fact that these people will stop a vehicle, they will accuse you of either parking illegally or parking wrongly and the next thing that happens is that they will remove your vehicle number plate and take it somewhere and ask you to come and pay between N2,000, N5,000 or N10,000 depending on your status, all these impunity has to stop in the industry and that is the essence of our demonstration”.
“We have given the government a 21 days ultimatum, we are asking that all these issues be reviewed in the next 21 days, otherwise we cannot guarantee that there will be no closure of the entire airspace that is the truth”, the NUATE scribe emphasized.