Journalism of Courage

Lagos airport shut over security breach as man’s mangled body found on runway diverted to neigbhouring countries

The mangled body of a man found on Runway 18R of the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, has forced a temporary shut down in the early hours of Thursday.

The incident described by an aviation expert as a major security breach, has left tongues wagging how the unidentified man found his way into the sensitive area of the airport.

According to retired Group Captain John Ojikutu, former Military Commandant of the airport,  there is a need to investigate how the unidentified man found his way into the sensitive area of the airport.

“The authorities need to investigate how the man got to the airport. Nobody can say much now; but he may have been knocked down by the wingspan or undercarriage of a jumbo jet but it is too early to say anything like that now.

“But we need to examine the issue of houses that have been built too close to the Lagos airport. The rule says no building should be situated less than six metres to the airport structure or fence. However, we have seen cases of people crossing the runway before.

“The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and FAAN need to investigate this to ascertain what really happened. They need to find out the flights that landed before that incident.

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“The current airport perimeter fence is not a security fence and we need to do something about it,” he said.

it could not be immediately ascertained if the man was knocked down by an aircraft while taking off or landing on the runway.

Airport officials said the shutting down of the runway is to facilitate evacuation of the corpse by a team of officials from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and the Nigeria Police.

While it lasts, international flights were prevented from landing and taking off from the airport’s international terminal.

Among the flights that could not land due to the shutdown was an Ethiopian Airlines flight 3907, a Boeing 77F aircraft with registration number ETAVN, which was coming from Lome, Togo to Lagos, Nigeria.

The flight was later diverted back to Lome after holding for a while.

Airport officials said the corpse was suddenly found on Runway 18R during a routine runway inspection by FAAN personnel.

The spokesperson for FAAN, Mrs. Faithful Avokerie Hope-Ivbaz, could not immediately confirm the incident, saying she had yet to be briefed.

However, the Police Public Relations Officer, Airport Command, Olayinka Ojelade, confirmed the incident, saying the command was alerted in the early hours of Thursday to evacuate the corpse from Runway 18R.

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