Tunde Opalana, Abuja
The Senate on Tuesday mandated the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to ensure installation of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) in all airports in the country to strengthen security of passengers within and around the airports.
The upper Chamber as well called for adequate security system in all the airports in the country for the purpose of monitoring the environments for the avoidance of planting illicit drugs and other illegal activities.
Also, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, moved for punitive punishment for officials fingered in the drug cartel that implicated Nigerians arrested in Saudi Arabia over illicit drugs.
The Senate president said security agencies should hold all personnel on duty accountable, questioned, investigated and punished accordingly to serve as a deterrent.
Lawan said punishing the culprits in the Saudi drug saga will forestall future arrest of any Nigerian citizen that pass through Nigerian airports on allegations of drug trafficking.
Senate directive follows a motion titled: “The need to strengthen security at the Nigerian Airports,” sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe (Kwara Central) and seven others.
Leading debate on the motion, the lawmaker noted the arrest of two Nigerians who were in detention for almost two years over alleged drug trafficking on a frame-up initiated from the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport.
He noted that there are several other incidents of arrests of innocent Nigerian citizens by the Saudi government and other countries on similar allegations of drugs trafficking.
He said “these innocent citizens are just victims of circumstances as many of these distasteful situations would have been curtailed but for security lapses at the Nigerian Airports infiltrated by drug syndicates with easy access to plant illicit drugs on innocent travellers or their belongings without their knowledge.”
Senators in their contributions emphasised the need for security agencies to be up and doing and also to sanction erring personnel on duty whenever crime is committed while pointing out the need for change of attitude of public officials, who intimidate personnel on duty with their positions in government.
Senator Gabriel Suswan (PDP Benue) said: “We cannot just be pushing this to the security. We as VIP must live by example. We should show these people that we are not above the law, otherwise the issue will persist.
Rochas Okorocha (APC Imo) noted that the problem would be solved if somebody is held accountable.
Ibinkule Amosun, (APC Ogun) said that National Assembly should support whatever initiative is put in place to address the ugly development.
The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, who presided over the plenary said: “I had the opportunity to travel to Saudi Arabia for lesser hajj and during my trip I was able to engage the embassy personal in Saudi Arabia.
“We held discussions on what happened on the issue of Zainab Aliyu and the other person from Zamfara Alarama who were arrested.
“The story was very pathetic and I decided that we must take every action that those responsible for planting those illicit drugs in their bags are prosecuted.”
He added that last week, he invited the Inspector General of Police, the chairman/CEO of NDLEA and the MD FAAN to meet with the Senate in the National Assembly, adding, “We told them clearly that the National Assembly was not going to allow the case to be swept under the carpet.”
He disclosed that they have received briefings from the NDLEA that it is in court with five arrested people but sadly they were told that the judge granted them bail which must be for due process.
Lawan said the discouraging part of it was that two of the five accused travelled out of the country, adding that “so we insisted they must be brought back. The case was initially adjourned till June and we were told it was adjourned again till July and we say no the case must be completed expeditiously.
“This people must be punished to serve as deterrent to anybody who toys with the lives of Nigerians. With their action so many Nigerians would have been executed innocently through the fault of others and not their own.
“So this motion is apt; it is timely and this Senate will go ahead to pursue this case to its logical conclusion. I want to assure that this senate will ensure that the lives and property of Nigerians are protected that is why we are here.”