Row as Stakeholders Accuse FAAN of Diverting Security Tax
Officials of international airlines that operate in Nigeria have alleged that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) had diverted the multibillion-naira security tax it collected from passengers for the provision of facilities at the airports.
But FAAN has denied the allegation, saying it was false.
Every passenger traveling to international destination pays $20 security tax to FAAN. It was introduced in 2010 to provide infrastructure that would further fortify the airports against terror attacks.
FAAN recorded 323,751 international passengers at the Lagos and Abuja airports in the first quarter of 2021, that paid $6, 475, 020 (N2, 661, 233, 2020) security fee of $20 each.
One of the officials who spoke to THISDAY, on condition of anonymity, explained that every passenger travelling out of the country pays $20 security tax and FAAN has been collecting the money since 2010, but so far security infrastructure and other facilities at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), which is the major gateway have not improved.
The official lamented that even Aviation Security (AVSEC) personnel are inadequate most times the x-ray machines at the airport are not manned. Also, the source alleged that AVSEC workers at the terminal gates are not enough and were being complemented by Nigeria police.
The official told THISDAY that if the huge revenues accruing from security tax were used for the airport maintenance and provision of security equipment, the international airports in Lagos and Abuja would become more functional with modern facilities.
“Besides, when the tax was introduced it was meant to be for a period of time but it has become permanent which every passenger travelling out of the country must pay,” the source said.
“FAAN has been recruiting new personnel lately but there are still paucity of aviation security personnel so police have to complement them and police have brought their ways in the streets into the airport.
“Every day you notice that passengers are being extorted. Sometimes AVSEC officials would stop a passenger, accuse him of not having one document or another and after he would tell the passenger to go and meet the police officer, who will ask him to pay some money.
“The police should not be permanently stationed at the airport, but should be called up when the need arises. So FAAN need to train more aviation security personnel.
“If you go to FAAN headquarters or even at international terminal you will see so many workers who are not doing anything, just idling away but there are not enough Aviation Security officials. I was told that it is not easy to train AVSEC officials because they have to be profiled and their names must be sent to DSS, which would vet the names and investigate and profile them,” he further alleged.
To the President of Association of Foreign Airlines and Representatives in Nigeria and the Managing Director/CEO of Merchant Express, a cargo company, Kingsley Nwokoma, said revenues from the security tax was meant to provide facilities to alleviate the rigour of passenger processing at the airports.
“Passengers suffer a lot of delays because the needed equipment or personnel are inadequate. Travel is supposed to be great experience for passengers but the airports in Nigeria give you bad experience, where you can wait for a long time before you board you flights because there are inadequate and outmoded equipment.
“It is unfortunate that we are where we are, but FAAN has to improve its system, it is not about collecting revenue. It should provide efficient service,” Nwokoma said.
When contacted, the Regional Manager in charge of MMIA, Mrs. Victoria Shin-Abbah, said she would not comment on the issue.
But the General Manager, Public Affairs, FAAN, told THISDAY that the allegations were not true.
“We have ICAO approved training centre, which caters for the whole of West Africa and I can tell you that AVSEC and Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting Services personnel are the most trained in FAAN,” she said.