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Again, suspected thieves open aircraft cargo hold at Lagos Airport

There appears to be no end in sight to the issue of runway theft in Nigerian aviation as  suspected thieves allegedly opened the cargo hold…

There appears to be no end in sight to the issue of runway theft in Nigerian aviation as  suspected thieves allegedly opened the cargo hold of Air Peace Flight 7138 holding for departure on Runway 18R (A1) of the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos at about 7.35pm on Thursday.

The flight was about departing to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) Abuja when the Control Tower reportedly alerted the Pilot – in – Command.

The Pilot-in-Command, Capt. Adesola Arasi, according to Air Peace spokesman, Mr. Chris Iwarah, had to contact control tower when he was alerted by the light that came on in the cockpit suggesting that the cargo hold was opened for about 15 seconds and immediately shut.

In line with standard practice in aviation, it was learnt that the passengers who had already boarded had to be disembarked for the crew to carry out checks if nothing incriminating or any explosive device had not been dumped inside the cargo hold.

Iwarah said: "Capt. Arasi insisted on having EOD squad check Flight APK 7138 before takeoff to be doubly sure nothing was deposited in the cargo hold by the suspected thieves to endanger the lives of our guests and crew.

“Our guests, who were fully briefed of the development by the pilot-in-command, were advised to disembark from the aircraft and board an Air Peace bus while the joint security operation by EOD, FAAN AVSEC and our security team lasted. The Lagos-Abuja flight was cleared by the security experts after exhaustive screening of the aircraft lasting about 30 minutes. 

“The flight eventually took off at 9.30pm and safely landed in Abuja at about 10.23pm. Our satisfied guests commended the professionalism of Capt. Arasi and his team as well as the high safety standards of Air Peace.”

Some of the passengers hailed the airline’s flight and cabin crew for their security consciousness and professionalism after the incident.

However spokesman of Lagos Airport Police Command, Mr. Joseph Alabi said the alleged theft could not have happened, nothing that the incident did not happen.

According to him, no outsider would have come into the tarmac at that time of the day even as he said there were three patrol vehicles conducting surveillance on the airside.

He said but he could not rule out if the cargo hold was opened by one of the personnel on the aircraft.

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