Friday, 10 January 2020 12:02

US-Iran Face-Off: Tougher Screening Awaits Nigerian Travellers

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Tougher security screening may be awaiting Nigerians who are planning to visit the United States (U.S.) and other European countries in the wake of the escalated face-off between America and Iran.

Aviation security experts said the measure would now be necessary with the suspicious Wednesday’s Boeing plane crash in Iran.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) yesterday said they were watching the developments closely and would react as appropriate in line with the Federal Government’s policy.

Though there are no direct flights between Nigeria, Iraq or Iran, there are Nigerian passengers travelling on airlines that are directly connected to the crisis, and a source of concern for industry watchers.

Aviation security consultant, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd) yesterday said Nigeria should be worried about flights going directly to the U.S. and possibly to some European countries, especially the United Kingdom (UK), the same way the airlines from these countries would be concerned about all passengers they carry from Nigeria.

“Security screenings of passengers and their carry-on luggage and the hold baggage would now be enhanced than ever before. These countries would come out with security directives for their airports, their airlines and to countries into which their airlines operate. I won’t be too surprised if the USA TSA audit of last week is not unconnected to the incident of Friday in lraq between the U.S. and Iran,” Ojikutu said.

As at yesterday, the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has called on the national air operators to evaluate flightpath risks that may affect aviation operations.

The GCAA said that it continued to monitor and assess regional developments, and would promptly take all necessary and appropriate measures.

The aviation regulator’s statement came after several airlines cancelled Iran and Iraq flights and re-routed others away from both countries’ airspace after Iranian forces fired missiles at military bases housing U.S. troops in Iraq on Wednesday in retaliation for the U.S. killing of an Iranian general, raising the stakes in its conflict with Washington amid concern of a wider war in the Middle East.

Ojikutu said more stringent measures and directives should be expected, as he urged the local authorities to also be proactive.

“Unfortunately, the meeting the President had yesterday (Wednesday) on the Iran/U.S. matter was on the economic benefit and included those responsible for oil marketing mainly. The police inspector general had taken some actions internally but forgot that the aviation is always on top of the list of targets of terrorists.

“I would have loved to see the integration of the intelligence from the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Directorate of State Services (DSS), police, Immigration and the NCAA, so each can get the tactical intelligence for its operations,” he said.

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