Operatives of the State Security Service have been directed by the Ministry of Aviation to stay away from all the nation’s international airports.
The order, which was communicated to the SSS leadership a few weeks ago, was said to have shocked the operatives.
It was further gathered that the directive by the ministry, which is headed by Ms Stella Oduah, might affect the ability of the SSS to perform its duties of preventing, detecting, and investigating threats of espionage, subversion, sabotage and terrorist activities, especially at the airports.
Some of the international airports are the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos; the Port Harcourt International Airport, Port Harcourt; the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja; and the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano.
A top security source, who declined to be named because he was not permitted to speak on the matter, confided in one of our correspondents in Abuja on Sunday, that no reason was given by the ministry for the order.
He said, “We are taking every step to end terrorism in the country by scaling up our intelligence networks and tightening security at all borders and airports, but the aviation ministry, rather than complementing our efforts, is exposing the nation to more risks by withdrawing SSS personnel from all international airports for reasons best known to it.”
There were however indications on Sunday that the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), had been informed about the development.
Our correspondents gathered that the presence of the SSS operatives at airports had foiled many crimes and planned importation of contrabands.
The SSS Deputy Director, Public Relations, Marilyn Ogar, could not be reached for comments on Sunday as she did not respond to calls to her mobile telephone line.
She also did not reply a text message sent to her.
The Ministry of Aviation refused to either confirm or deny the withdrawal of the SSS operatives from the airports.
When contacted, the Spokesperson for aviation parastatals, Mr. Yakubu Dati, told one of our correspondents that he would get back to him but never did as of 10pm on Sunday.
Similarly, senior officials of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, refused to speak on the matter.
Efforts to get the reaction of the Special Assistant to the Minister of Aviation on Media, Mr. Joe Obi, were not successful. Obi terminated calls to his mobile telephone line and also did not reply the text messages sent to him.
Source: The Punch