The Federal Government and the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism have begun the process of deploying Advance Passenger Information and Passenger Name Records at airports to detect possible terrorists and criminals.
Musa Nuhu, Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), stated on the sidelines of the UN Consultation Workshop in Abuja on Thursday that it was now critical to implement the technology owing to Nigeria’s security issues.
He said, “The Advance Passenger Information and Passenger Name Record API/PNR are tools for effectively managing, controlling, and maintaining travel through details of passengers.”
“This is an outcome of several United Nations security council resolutions and also passage by the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) council on standards and API/PNR.
“It involves the various security agencies working together, industry stakeholders both private and public, all coming together to come up with this API/PNR record.”
Nuhu added, “What it does is that it identifies potential criminals, terrorists, illicit drug trading, illicit human trading, as well as trafficking, and it does a lot to improve facilitation through proper documentation.”
The NCAA boss stated that the technology would verify the true identity of any passenger as contained in his/her passport.
“And if for any reason any security agency locally or internationally has an alert, you will be identified and you will be taken in for whatever processes to be done,” he stated.
He explained that “this is a global and not local initiative started by the United Nations security council resolutions and it involves all agencies including Customs, Immigration, FAAN, NCAA, and all other security agencies.”
On the other benefits of the API/PNR, Nuhu said, “We are facing certain security challenges and you need to control the borders.
“We need to know who is going in and out of this country. It helps with facilitation and delays in passenger processes. Once you have the proper documentation and they can, you are okay, off you go.
“So, it not only improves security but also facilitation, and for us in aviation, it gives us data and with data, you can do projections and plan on how to grow the industry.”
The Programme Manager, UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, Marie Carpenter, states that UNOCT was established to respond to threats of terrorism globally, where terrorists cross international borders using different modes of transportation.
She said, “So it can be airline industry, maritime, or by train.” Our goal is to support countries, and take the passenger data when the passenger either checks in or crosses the border.
“This is to make sure that this data is taken, analysed and cross-checked against international and national databases of watchlist individuals.”
Asked whether there were global threats to international travel, Carpenter replied, “Yes.” This is really in response to the threats because we noticed that criminals and terrorists use the airline industry to either combat or conduct other crimes related to terrorism.
“This is a phenomenon that has been observed not only in Nigeria but in the African region and the world. It is a phenomenon that terrorists have proven to use.
“So we need to be able to detect these individuals using their passport information and passenger name record data. That can be helpful, but it is really in response to the threat and the phenomenon that we are observing.”