According to a source, the airfield lighting components were carted away by some workers at the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in connivance with some outsiders who have access to the runway site.
“The criminal took advantage of the closure to commit the crime. I can not give the actual worth of the theft, but almost all the lighting was removed. The Permanent secretary came around to see for himself the huge damage done. A lot of FAAN officials have been suspended”, the source confirmed.
Following the scandal, some heads of relevant departments at the organisation have been suspended on the directives of the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Aviation, Dr Emmanuel Meribole, after inspecting the damaged site. At the same time, investigations have since commenced to unravel those responsible for stealing the safety equipment.
The theft of the components, which has elicited anger amongst key players both in FAAN and the sector in general, has once again been blamed on the porosity of the airport environment, where many undesirable elements can easily access the restricted areas of the airport.
The ability of the thieves to comfortably remove the huge components away from the restricted airside undetected has been attributed to sabotage by some workers in the Authority and aided by the thick forest surrounding the airport, which makes it easier for such undesirable elements to hide behind cover till convenient opportunity comes for them to achieve their aims.
According to the information gathered, the latest theft of safety equipment at the Lagos airport was not the first incident, as the airport has recorded similar security breaches.
Not long ago, a similar incident occurred when some workers from a sister agency of FAAN who were involved in the theft of some navigational equipment at the airside were caught and suspended.
According to a source who confirmed the latest incident to the media, the regular incursion and theft of safety components at the airports are being carried out by a syndicate consisting of some workers of the agencies who have access to the restricted areas and accomplices from outside.
Despite the regular patrol of security vehicles around the airside, the undesirable elements have formed the habit of hiding behind the thick forests once they sight an oncoming security vans.
For 15 years the Lagos airport domestic runway 18Left was shut down to night operations due to the absence of airfield lightings which put the domestic airlines through financial stress as they were forced to make use of the runway 19 at the international airport which consumes more aviation fuel because of the longer distance.