Sierra Leone’s sole international airport at Lungi has stepped up security following the botched attempt on July 4 by 31-year-old Ibrahim Kanu to enter an Air France plane with petrol, matches and a cigarette lighter.
According to the Ag General Manager of the Sierra Leone Airports Authority, Idrissa Fofanah, they are now implementing extra security measures “to address the lapses and all seems to be working”.
He told Politico that “all access points within and around the airport are [now] manned on a 24/7 basis and in addition to CCTV coverage there is a routine monitoring of each post on an hourly basis.”
Fofanah said additional CCTV cameras had been installed in areas including the main gate, with a “routine” monitoring of live CCTV coverage by security agencies in addition to the British firm, Westminster, who were in charge when Kanu entered the airport tarmac area. The Office for National Security, the Sierra Leone Police and the Safety and Compliance Department of the airports authority are the new outfits helping monitor the footage.
There would also now be a “routine patrol” of the airside, he said, as well as a manual search of every person and vehicle entering the airport. The access passes of all airport operatives have been reviewed.
“The public must therefore have confidence in the security of the airport as we strive to ensure the safety, security and comfort of all airport users,” Fofanah said. He assured that there was no need for panic or alarm as “we are taking no chances, and a repeat of the recent breach will not happen”.
On Saturday 4 June this year Ibrahim Kanu managed to enter the airside of the airport reserved for specific staff and checked-in passengers, without a valid passport or a boarding pass. He boarded the bus taking passengers onboard the plane before he was spotted.
Police say he gained access through a route called the GM’s gate which was supposed to be being manned by Westminster. Kanu did not only find the gate ajar, but there was no Westminster security around. The gate is called GM’s gate but airport officials say it is used by some other staff.
Westminster declined to comment on the matter saying only that they would not make any statement since police investigations were underway. Kanu is under detention and it is not clear whatever his motive was, if any. Some family sources say he has a psychiatric problem.