The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, says it is a routine process for all incoming passengers on international flights to go through customs, immìgration, health and security screenings.
Sirika said this in a statement signed by him on Sunday, in reaction to comments by the Presidential flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar, that he was searched at the airport on his arrival from Dubai, with the aim of intimidating him.
The PDP also issued a statement alleging that security agents invaded Atiku’s aircraft with dangerous weapons to conduct a violent search.
It further stated that the security officials tampered with his personal documents and gadgets.
But the aviation minister described the allegations as a mischievous attempt to grab the headlines.
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He explained that while it is true that the Task Force on Currency at the airport did the routine action of checking the former Vice President’s travel bag, he was accorded full respect as a senior citizen.
The statement read in part, “For the records, all incoming passengers on international flights go through customs, Immìgration, health and security screening.
“Where the aircraft is using the private, charter wing, as the PDP Candidate did, such arrivals are met by a team of the Immìgration, customs and other security agencies. They go to the arriving aircraft as a team.
“The airport authorities confirm that this is a routine process, applying to all international arrivals, including the minister unless the passenger is the President of Nigeria. The President, the Vice President and passengers aboard planes on the Presidential air fleet use the Presidential wing of the airport.
“It is also important to state that even in the Presidential Wing of the airport the President of Nigeria uses, there is the presence of Immìgration and other security officials who must stamp his or her passport on arrival.
“By standard procedure, all aircraft on international arrivals must first of all park at the international wing of the aircraft. They can move to the domestic terminal only upon the completion of the arrival processes.
“While it is true that the Task Force on Currency at the airport did the routine action of checking the former Vice President’s travel bag, he was accorded full respect as a senior citizen.
“These checks are mandatory, conventional, internationally applied and routine. No one is excused from them under our laws. These checks are carried out on all international arrivals and President Buhari does not get involved in them.
“Law-abiding citizens are encouraged to respect the laws of the country and our VIPs should not seek to be treated over and above the citizens they wish to serve”.