FG, UN to identify terrorists, criminals at airports

FG, UN to identify terrorists, criminals at airports

Check-in counter of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos. Photo: Goke Famadewa

The Federal Government and the United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism have commenced the process for the deployment of the Advance Passenger Information and Passenger Name Record to identify potential terrorists and criminals at airports.

Speaking on the sidelines of the UN Consultation Workshop on API/PNR in Abuja on Thursday, the Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Musa Nuhu, said it was now vital to deploy the tool due to Nigeria’s security challenges.

He said, “The Advance Passenger Information and Passenger Name Record are tools for effectively managing, controlling and maintaining travel through details of passengers.

“This is an outcome of several United Nations security council resolutions and also passage by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) council on standards and API/PNR.

“It involves the various security agencies working together, industry stakeholders both private and public all coming together to come up with this API/PNR record.”

Nuhu added, “What it does is that it identifies potential criminals, terrorists, illicit drug trading, illicit human trading, as well as trafficking, and it does help a lot in improving facilitation through proper documentations.”

The NCAA boss stated that the technology would verify the true identity of any passenger as contained in his/her passport.

“And if for any reason any security agency locally or internationally has an alert, you will be identified and you will be taken in for whatever processes to be done,” he stated.

He explained that “this is a global and not local initiative started by the United Nations security council resolutions and it involves all agencies including Customs, Immigration, FAAN, NCAA, and all other security agencies.”

On the other benefits of the API/PNR, Nuhu said, “We are facing certain security challenges and you need to control the borders.

“We need to know who is going in and out of this country. It helps with facilitation and delays in passenger processes. Once you have the proper document and they scan, you are okay, 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 and plan on how to grow the industry.”

The Programme Manager, UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, Marie Carpenter, states that UNOCT was established to respond to threats of terrorism globally, where terrorists crossed international borders using different modes of transportation.

She said, “So it can be airline industry, maritime, or by trains. Our goal is to support countries, and take the passenger data when the passenger either checks in or when they are crossing the border.

“This is to make sure that this data is taken, analaysed and cross-checked against international and national databases of watchlist individuals.”

Asked whether there were global threats to international travels, Carpenter replied, “Yes. This is really in response to the threats because we noticed that criminals and terrorists use the airline industry to either combat or conduct other crimes related to terrorism.

“This is a phenomenon that has been observed not only in Nigeria but in the African region and the world. It is a phenomenon that terrorists have proven to use.

“So 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 phenomenon that we are observing.”

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