Direct flights from Nigeria to United States of America which were suspended due to safety reasons would soon commence. The minister of Aviation, Professor Babalola Borishade, revealed this yesterday in Abuja when Robert Emmett Downey, the Attache, Law Enforcement Assistant of the US Embassy visited him in his office which heralded a tour of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja.
Although Borishade did not mention the particular airline to operate the flights, he however said that the Federal Government was putting measures in place to ensure that security requirements at the airports were put in place as 'soon as possible'.
Part of the security measures is a US funded Narcotics Screening machines to be installed in all major airports in the country.
Downey stated that the American government having a long standing relationship in various areas of cooperation with Nigeria is interested in how to curb narcotics traffic through cooperation with the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and other security agents in the country.
Later at the airport for preliminary survey for the installation of the machines, the minister was shown an x-ray machine and an itemizer machine which according to Hamza Umar, Area Commander of NDLEA was donated by the American government several years ago.
He also informed the minister that about 16 Kilogrammes of hard drugs were impounded at the airport from 14 suspects out of which ten have been convicted while the remaining two suspects are still being kept at the NDLEA cell at the airport for conviction.
The x-ray machine Downey said is obsolete and that the US is planning to replace them with modern and digital facilities which will enhance the operations of the security agency as is in all modern airports in the world. Each of the new machines he further revealed would cost $250,000.
Borishade was however piqued with the rate of decay of facilities at the airports. Some these include non functional air-conditioning systems and a Customs bay which he directed should be created for proper customs check. "The way it is now, when a passenger comes into this airport, he sees several customs men lining up. The impression it gives is that, one is already a criminal. That is wrong. It is not done anywhere in the world. There should be a place where people who have anything to declare should go to meet with the customs while those who have nothing to declare or any reason to be invited by the customs should go without being delayed unnecessarily". He also complained about the location of the NDLEA cell which is located on the stairway stressing that its location is not safe enough for both the detainees and the agents.
He however directed that a joint meeting of operators at the airport be held in his office on Thursday to map out a blueprint for reverting the airport to its original state after which locations would be made available for the installation of the machines.
Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media. (allafrica.com)
[This Day (Nigeria) -- 04/24/06]