In spite of availability of baggage scanner at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) officials have continued with manual searching of passengers’ baggage, abandoning the machine. The baggage scanner, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), has been idle since flight operations commenced at the new terminal on January 6, after its inauguration on December 20, 2018.
The scanner was installed along with other facilities at the new terminal built by China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC). It was observed that when Asky Airlines, the first to use the new terminal, landed its aircraft on January 6, Customs personnel carried out manual checking on passengers’ baggage, shunning the scanner. When Ethiopian Airlines landed their first flight at the terminal on January 24, Emirates on March 13, Lufthansa on March 27 and British Airways on April 30, the officials did not also use the baggage scanner. Contacted to ascertain the functionality of the scanner, the Airport Manager, Mr. Sani Mahmud, told NAN that the machine was very new and functioning like other equipment in the new terminal. Mahmud said that the machine was provided to ensure seamless operation at the airport, but that he could not understand why NCS officials refused to use it.
He, however, said that he was not in position to explain the reason for the situation. Also, Mrs. Hajara Musa, International Terminal Manager at the airport,confirmed toNAN that the machine had not been in use since flight operations commenced at the new terminal. Musa, however, disclosed that the NCS officials, “from nowhere” started using the equipment “only today, Thursday, May 16.” Officials of other agencies at the airport, who pleaded anonymity, also confirmed toNAN that the equipment had been idle, and expressed disappointment with the attitude of NCS officials deployed at the terminal. When NAN contacted the Comptroller of Federal Territory Command (FCT) of NCS, Mrs. Dinatu Umar, she said that the equipment had been in use. She, however, said that her response was based on the conversation she had with the officers in charge of the equipment at the terminal.Umar explained that the scanner was not meant to be used on all passengers’ baggage, saying that the officers would only use it when the need arose. “After you called me, I called the OC and I called other persons that are not customs officers and they said they use it. “I am telling you authoritatively that they are using it; they don’t use it on all passengers, but we have to secure the country. When we notice passengers that we need to do physical checking on, we do. “I am telling you to take my word and if you don’t want to take my word, you can go back and check it and if you notice anything come back and tell me,” she told NAN. An official of one of the agencies at the terminal confirmed to NAN that NCS officials started using the equipment “today (Thursday), the first time since January,” adding that it was obviously after the comptroller ordered them to do so.