The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has confirmed the theft of the airfield lighting system installed on Runway 18R at the Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMIA) in Lagos. The incident occurred in May, shortly after rehabilitation work commenced on the runway, leading to the diversion of international flights to the domestic runway, known as Runway 18L.
Following the initial theft, FAAN’s Managing Director, Kabir Mohammed, had instructed the Head of Electrical Services to remove the remaining part of the airfield system. However, this directive was not followed, and the remaining part of the lighting system was subsequently stolen.
In response to the incident, FAAN management has issued queries to all personnel on duty and suspended 10 individuals, including the Chief of Airport Security, Head of Department (HOD) Electrical, and HOD Environment. Additionally, the Managing Director mandated a comprehensive investigation into the matter, appointing a committee headed by the Director of Human Resources.
As part of efforts to strengthen security, FAAN management conducted an inspection of airport facilities on Monday and has bolstered security measures in the airside area, known as the sterile area. The agency is investigating whether the theft was an inside job, considering the ignored directive to remove the lighting system and the proximity of the theft to areas that have previously experienced incursions.
FAAN officials, speaking anonymously, expressed doubts about the likelihood of an outsider removing the system without knowledge of its functionality and purpose. They emphasized the highly restricted nature of the area where the theft occurred and highlighted the rigorous patrols carried out by the joint security operatives from the Air Force, Aviation Security, and Nigeria Police along the runway.
Industry observers underscored the importance of FAAN’s investigation in identifying those responsible for the theft and mitigating insider threats. They emphasized the need for the agency to prevent acts of sabotage perpetrated by individuals within the organization who exploit their positions for illicit purposes, posing risks to airport security and operations