As the aviation industry comes under increased terrorism threats globally, the United Nations (UN) Office of Counter Terrorism, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Interpol, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and other UN partners are upscaling competencies of Nigerian agencies in aviation terrorism threats and response.
All the relevant agencies working at the airports were part of the UN Consultation Workshop on Advance Passenger Information and Passenger Name Record (API/PNR) system held in Abuja on Monday.
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Aviation Security, the Nigerian Immigration Service, the Nigeria Customs Service, other security agencies and aviation agencies were part of the high impact training.
The Director General of NCAA, Capt Musa Nuhu, told reporters at the conference that Nigeria too was “facing certain security challenges and you need to control the borders. We need to know who is going in and out of the country. So, that is an advantage. It helps with facilitation, delays passenger processes. For me it is aviation through the airports. Once you have the proper document and they scan, you are okay and off you go.
“So, it not only improves security but also facilitation, and for us in aviation, it gives us data, and with data you can do projections; planning on how to grow the industry.”
Marguerite Marie Carpenter, the Programme Manager, UN Office of Counter Terrorism, said passengers’ data were taken, analysed and crosschecked against international and national data bases of watch list individuals.
Carpenter said, “So, the support we provide is comprehensive and in line with the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions that we passed in 2017 and 2019. The support we provide is under four pillars: the legal pillar by supporting countries to develop national legal frameworks to be able to collect, analyse passenger data for counter terrorism and to prevent serious crimes purposes.
“For the operational pillar, we support countries through capacity building for the passenger information unit. This is a multi-agency detection unit that is in charge of receiving data from the airlines, and even maritime operatives, depending on the country, and doing those crosschecks to be able to detect individuals before their arrival to the country.
“There is the transport industry engagement pillar. We support connecting with different airlines.
There is the technical pillar. We can provide technical support through software to enable countries to receive these data from airlines and conduct analysis.”
Carpenter further said, “We are bringing together all the different United Nations partners. We understand that different supports have been provided to Nigeria in the past and now; we are bringing together all the different organisations, including IOM and Interpol, and making sure that we receive status update on where Nigeria is at in the implementation of the passenger data regime so that we can develop a roadmap and support.”
On whether there are global threats for international travel, she said, “Yes! This is really in response to the threat because we noticed that criminals and terrorists use the airline industry to go either conduct other causes related to terrorist and this is a phenomenal that has been observed not only in Nigeria but in the African region and the world. It is a phenomenal that terrorists have proven to use and we need to be able to detect these Individuals using their passport information and passenger name record data that can be helpful but it is really in response to the threat and the phenomenal that we are observing.”