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Major security breach at Sierra Leone airport

Major security breach at Sierra Leone airport

10 June 2015 – Reports are just emerging of a major security breach at the Lungi international airport as a man attempted to board an Air France plane with petrol, a matchbox and a cigarette lighter on him, among other things.

A three-and-a-half-hour-long closed circuit television (CCTV) footage shows he had spent over three hours on and around the tarmac, with a traveller’s bag, and he had even changed his shirt preparing to board the plane before he was spotted.

The incident, which happened on Saturday evening, saw the man without a valid passport, a flight ticket or a boarding pass, make his way right to the airport tarmac. He boarded the flight conveyor bus with checked-in Air France passengers.

One report says the bus arrived beside the plane where he was detected as passengers started boarding the plane, as he had no boarding pass.

Another source however says he was spotted on the bus shortly after he had boarded to be taken to the plane.

Police Local Unit Commander, Superintendent Abioseh Hyde told Politico that the man entered the airport tarmac through a gate usually reserved for the airport General Manager which he apparently found unlocked.

He had just finished performing the Muslim Zuhr (2 O’ Clock) prayer in the airport mosque.

The local police chief denies that the man, whose expired passport bears the name Ibrahim Kanu but his national ID card bears the name Blessing Kanu, also had a knife on him.

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Kanu, 31, was arrested and handed over to the Sierra Leone Police stationed in Lungi who are investigating his possible motive. Supt Hyde says eight other people were arrested but that all but Kanu have been released on bail. Kanu has been transferred to Freetown. Those arrested and released are airport workers. The CCTV footage shows them lying close to Kanu beside the tarmac before the plane landed,until he boarded the bus.

There was panic at the airport when the incident happened, an airline official who spoke on condition of anonymity, said. The British security firm Westminster is in charge of security at the airport.

They are yet to make any public statement on the incident. The head of the company in Sierra Leone, John Dromond, could not give much when contacted by Politico. He, however, said that since the matter was under investigation, it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to comment on it. “Investigations are still going on. That’s how much I can say,” he concluded.

By Umaru Fofana, Courtesy of Politico 10/06/16

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