National Security: When Azman Air Lied To Advance FG Propaganda
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
Days before the attacks on the Kaduna-Abuja trains leading to the brutal killings of Nigerians by armed bandits, management of Azman Air publicly denied similar attacks carried out at the Kaduna Airport, also reportedly by bandits; ostensibly to steer the course of the federal government that all was well.
By its action, Azman Air simply helped the federal government to advance its propaganda that critical national assets such as airports and other networks of transportation, especially in the bandits controlled locations in the North East and North West, are safe and secured; and that Nigerians can go about their businesses without entertaining any fear, which is consistent with this administration’s routine assurances.
On March 22, 2022, over a hundred suspected bandits reportedly overran the Kaduna Airport through the 05 Runway close to the VOR facility, carrying out spontaneous attacks. It was reported that Azman Air and a private jet were at the tarmac, preparatory to boarding of passengers, during the attack.
Consequently, all operations were suspended until the security forces including the army were able to repel the outlaws after which the two aircraft boarded their passengers and took off under military watch and protection.
Doubtless, news of the incident caused quite some amount of panic and public apprehension, apparently tipping down the scale of national insecurity rating; especially given the sad account of how easy the bandits were able to access the critical operational areas unchallenged, and carried out terrifying attacks, leaving one dead on its trail.
Concerns were more, given their trade mark ragtag appearances, spiced with military attire, with sophisticated weapons, and moving in convoy of motorcycles like hippies on the highway. Above sad tales should rightly disturbed a nation and its people, more so, under an inept government that have also repeatedly been accused of conspiracy with the tribe of bloodletting satanic bandits and other insurgents.
Curiously, amid this anxieties and confusion, Azman Air on March 26, 2022, issued a public notice, denying that the attacks took place inside the airport. Whatever the airline’s intentions, it put up a spirited effort to whittle down the publics’ worries; while at the same time, technically absolving the government and its security architecture of blame for the attacks on the Kaduna Airport.
The statement titled Delay At Kaduna Airport reads: “This (The) Management of Azman Air will like o clarify the incidence leading o he delay departure of or Lagos bound Flight from Kaduna Airport today 26th, march, 2022.
“Azman Air Aircraft 5NHAI touched down at the Kaduna Airport around 12:36pm and the boarding of Lagos bond passengers was completed around 1:04pm during which the cockpit crew requested for permission to depart.
“The control tower offered a SAFETY advice o hold on departure due to Security Threats in a village close o the Airport. This delayed or (our) departure for 44min after which the control tower cleared the crew o proceed accordingly.
“The Aircraft was stamped airborne a exactly 1 :48pm.”
The airline’s strange and questionable behaviour is not only a slur on its corporate image, but clearly one that has the trappings of a preposterous conspiracy designed to obfuscate the public and by extension, air travelers, of their right to accurate and timely travel information.
It will not serve correctional demand and public apology to dismiss such behavior simply as error of judgment, it must in the least be rightly situated as a corporate breach of confidence, and at worst as an incomprehensible act of inhumanity and misplaced officialdom.
In contrast however, the House of Representatives summarily summoned the Aviation Minister, Senator Hadi Sirika, and his heads of agencies and heads of security agencies for a meeting, following the attack.
The House also called on the Federal Government to through the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Chief of Defence Staff, Inspector-General of Police and heads of other security agencies to holistically intervene by setting up special security task force (SSTF) in airports across the country.
The House took the decisions after adopting the motion of Urgent National Importance, titled, “Urgent Need for The Federal Government Investigate The Recent Banditry Attack at Kaduna International Airport And Reinforce Security Surveillance and Personnel in All The Nigerian Airports sponsored by Honourable Nnolim Nnaji, Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Aviation.
The House further directed Federal Ministry of Aviation, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) security and other security agencies to come up with a more proactive measure in securing the airports, including providing modern security surveillance equipment on the perimeter fences in all airports.