By Chinelo Obogo

International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is set to commence the 2024 Universal Security Audit Programme (USAP) through Continuous Monitoring Approach (CMA) for the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja.

The auditors, who would carry out the exercise, arrived Abuja on Monday and will run for two weeks, terminating on March 22, 2024. The audit will cover the following areas: Inflight Security (IFS), Passenger and Baggage Security (PAX), Acts of Unlawful Interference (AUI), Facilitation (FAL), Legislation (LEG), Training (TRG), Quality Control Function (QCF), Operations (OPS) and Cargo, Mail and Catering (CGO).

Members of the four-man team are Callum Vine (team lead), James Mabala, Tebogo Mphela and Alagie Jeng.

The Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Mr. Festus Keyamo, welcomed the team of auditors to Nigeria, saying that the Program represents a concerted effort to uphold the highest standards of security across all facets of Nigeria’s aviation industry. He said through rigorous assessments, comprehensive evaluations, and collaborative partnerships, Nigeria aims to fortify her defenses against evolving threats and vulnerabilities.

Keyamo who was represented by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Emmanuel Meribole, commended the dedication and diligence of all stakeholders, including regulatory bodies, for their  commitment to ensuring the success of Nigeria’s aviation security endeavours and expressed hope that there will be no significant security concern.

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The Acting Director General of Civil Aviation, Nigeria, Capt. Chris Najomo, while delivering his opening address, said that the objectives of the ICAO USAP CMA is to improve global aviation security (AVSEC) through auditing and the continuous monitoring of AVSEC performance of member states by assessing the level of effective implementation of critical elements of the States’ AVSEC oversight system which provides an indication of the sustainability of the State’s AVSEC system.

Other objectives outlined by the Ag. DGCA are to assess the indicative degree of compliance of the State with Annex 9 and 17 bothering on Facilitation to the Convention on International Civil Aviation and AVSEC standards and security-related standards respectively. 

Capt. Najomo said that, as part of the on-site auditing process, the Abuja and Lagos international airports have been selected for verification of the implementation of security measures.

He, however, expressed optimism that Nigeria will surpass last rating with the progressive transformations that have taken place in the industry since the last exercise and considering the level of commitment of the current administration to ensure secure, safe and efficient air transportation in Nigeria. 

The NCAA is responsible for the development, implementation and maintenance of National Civil Aviation Security Programme (NCASP) and to ensure Nigeria excels in the exercise which was last held in 2015, the Banjul Accord Group Aviation Safety Oversight Organization (BAGASOO) conducted Aviation Security (AVSEC) Mock Audit in both Lagos and Abuja airports between 4th and 7th March, 2024.