The Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, on Sunday announced the suspension of three top staff of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, over the recent fiasco at the airport involving some passengers and Turkish Airlines.
The Minister disclosed this while briefing journalists after listening to explanations by the airport officials on the incident.
Some passengers, who flew Turkish Airlines into the country through the Abuja airport blocked the aircraft from leaving the runway after they were stranded at the airport for over 5 days without their luggage.
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The Passengers were aggrieved that the Airline did not address them on their missing luggage as the development forced some of them to spend their Christmas at the airport.
Speaking yesterday, Mr. Sirika said that the ministry had ordered thorough investigation to ascertain the cause of the breach, as well as why Turkish Airlines brought in passengers without their luggage.
The suspended officials, according to the Minister, are the Airport Manager, Terminal Manager and Head of Airport Security, who were ordered to hand over to the next most senior staff in rank, pending the outcome of the investigation.
Senator Sirika said the explanation by the officials of the airport that the security personnel on duty were overpowered by the passengers was unacceptable, ordering for thorough investigation into the incident.
He stated that the actions of the passengers, forcing their ways into the tarmac and blocking the aircraft from taking off was a security breach, which must not be condoned.
“There has been an unfortunate incident where some agitated passengers of the Turkish Airlines arrived without their luggage making them to force their way into the tarmac which is a breach of security.
“The explanation given is not satisfactory because the primary purpose of the government is to ensure safety of lives and property of its citizens.
“The cardinal objective of this administration is to secure the country and manage it and we cannot fail in aviation and we cannot fail in this important assignment at a very important point.
“We have ordered for the investigation into the matter immediately and all the people that are manning the various places; Airport Manager, Terminal Manager and Head of Security, should handover to the next man in rank pending the outcome of the investigation.
“As to the airline also, the Consumer Protection Unit of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has been ordered to find out what happened, how compliant they are and deal with it accordingly”, he said.
Mr. Sirika said the ministry was yet to get the flight manifest to be able to ascertain the number of passengers involved.
The Minister also confirmed that the passengers got agitated and got access into the prohibited area because there was security lapse.