Politico: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 June 2016
There are reports of a major security breach at the Lungi international airport, of a man attempting to board an Air France plane with petrol, a matchbox and a cigarette lighter, among other items in his possession.
A three-and-a-half hour long closed circuit television (CCTV) footage shows he had spent over three hours on and around the runway, with a traveller’s bag, and he had even changed his shirt preparing to board the plane before he was spotted.
The incident took place last Saturday evening. It is believed that the man was without a valid passport, a flight ticket or a boarding pass, but made his way to the airport runway. He boarded the flight conveyor bus with checked-in Air France passengers.
One report says the bus arrived beside the plane where he was detected as passengers started boarding the plane.
Another source however says he was spotted on the bus shortly after he had boarded to be taken to the plane.
Police Local Unit Commander, Superintendent Abioseh Hyde told Politico that the man entered the airport runway through a gate usually reserved for the airport General Manager which he apparently found unlocked.
He had just finished performing the Muslim Zuhr (2 O’ Clock) prayer in the airport mosque.
The local police chief denies that the man, whose expired passport bears the name Ibrahim Kanu but his national ID card bears the name Blessing Kanu, also had a knife on him.
Kanu, 31, was arrested and handed over to the Sierra Leone Police station in Lungi who are investigating his possible motive. Supt Hyde says eight other people were arrested but that all but Kanu have been released on bail. Kanu has been transferred to Freetown.
Those arrested and released are airport workers. The CCTV footage shows them lying close to Kanu beside the runway before the plane landed, until he boarded the bus.
There was panic at the airport when the incident happened, an airline official who spoke on condition of anonymity, said. The British security firm Westminster is in charge of security at the airport.
They are yet to make any public statement on the incident. The head of the company in Sierra Leone, John Dromond, could not give much information when contacted by Politico. He, however, said that since the matter was under investigation, it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to comment on it. “Investigations are still going on. That’s how much I can say,” he concluded.
The security of a nation depends largely on how efficient it’s strategic national security defense plan to protect and armored sensitive locations around the territorial limits of the country, put in the custody of competent authorities to execute such plan.
The most important areas of attention are the national boarders which are the gate ways entrance and exits of the country. Permanent surveillance must be given to the boarder areas and territorial limits at all times.
The airport and air traffic are of extraordinary importance. Here is where threats to national security can be easily compromised. The established protocol at the airport should never be underestimated neither be relaxed.
The incident at LUNGI International Airport reveals some amount of laxity and lethargic performance of the authorities in charge of our national security. These turbulent times of international terrorism humanity is going through today does not allow for any amount of negligence in questions of national security.
With this incident, a political responsibility should be located and to act in consequence, followed by a shake up of the airport authorities in charge of the security service at the airport.
Government must also beef up security apparatus and bring in competent airport security personnel.
This is a very important security issue for all of us, and trying to politicise it like some of the above commentators are trying to, by blaming the government for conspiracy is detrimental to the safety and security of all Sierra Leoneans alike.
Since the September 2001 plane hijack in America, airport security has became a global concern. and with all measures taken especially in the west to prevent such occurrences, and yet international terrorists are still succeeding at some point in smuggling dangerous weapons on-board planes and obliterate them in the air.
Why would the Sierra Leone government configure such a trick to justify their efforts in building a new airport? The APC government we all know, is synonymous with development and a lot of you will not attest to these for obvious reasons.
The Mamamah airport fate has been decided, whether you like it or not it will be built because it is good for our country and business. It will also relieve us of the stress of having to wait for the ferry to cross the river.
I see this as another way of justifying the construction of the so called airport which we don’t need. For people who regularly travel out of the country, it is not easy to go through the security checks at the Lungi International airport without visa or passport.
If guys are trying to justify the need for another airport, let them use another means instead of fooling people about security threat. If they want the $400 million dollars, they can still get it using another way of convincing the donor.” We don tire with the whole propaganda.”
I suspect this is an amateur hoax to test airport security. How can a man openly takes petrol and “Munku” matches on board an airline in broad daylight, without a valid passport and visa?
The British who always believe that “God is an Englishman” are now in control of security of the airport which I believe is a plus for the nation.
They also chose Lungi during colonial days as the best spot, probably for strategic reason because you can access the airport by land from the north, south, east and west of the country and also by sea from the capital.
All the government needs to do now is to beef up the security, maintain the roads and bridges leading to the airport, and provide at least two modern luxurious and well maintained ferries with well dressed and professional employees meant for just airport passengers.
Mortgaging Lungi airport to the Chinese to be used as a military base in that region will be a major strategic blunder because it can be a threat to Western Europe and NATO in particular.
So Mr. President, if it is your hidden motive to build Mamamah airport, please think it all over again before mortgaging the lives of our future generation for your personal interest .
Let me say my congratulations and great thank you to all security personnel at the Lungi International Airport for handling such a delicate situation.
No matter how anybody can term it, the Lungi International Airport is still on the international recognition for traveling to different parts of the world. Sierra Leoneans must appreciate that it has been the only safe passage to the rest of the world.
If the political atmosphere in Sierra Leone has become so filthy that this could be a ploy to legitimise the construction of the Mamamah International Airport, then the whole episode of this Lungi security drama is an unacceptable stunt.