A Lagos-bound Air Peace flight was forced to return to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, yesterday, following safety concerns over an explosive on board the aircraft.
The Corporate Communications Manager of the carrier, Mr Chris Iwarah, said the pilot aborted the flight after receiving information that there was an explosive on the aircraft.
Iwarah, who attributed the false information to an intending passenger who was denied boarding after the crew suspected that he might be mentally challenged, said the aircraft was already on its way to Lagos when the pilot made the return.
He said, “We confirm that Air Peace Flight P4 7121, Abuja-Lagos on Wednesday, January 30, 2019, returned to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, after the crew received information that there was a dangerous item on board.
“In line with procedures and our high safety standards, the captain-in-command acted professionally, briefed passengers on board and took the decision to return as a precaution. The aircraft landed in Abuja without any incident and passengers disembarked normally to enable security personnel to conduct a check.
“Passengers on board the flight were screened a second time and the aircraft thoroughly checked. At the end of the exercise, the information was found to be a hoax as nothing was found on the aircraft. The aircraft was subsequently cleared to depart for Lagos and safely landed at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos at about 11.44 a.m.”
He said the passenger who gave the information had since been taken into custody by security operatives for an investigation into the incident.
Meanwhile, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria has described the information as false.
“The threat of a bomb on an early morning Air Peace flight from Abuja to Lagos has been confirmed to be false,” FAAN said in a statement signed by its General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu.
“The passenger that raised the alarm is said to have a history of mental illness and is currently with the security agencies and medical experts for assessment,” the agency added.
FAAN stated that following the false information, its aviation security evacuated passengers, crew and cargo on board the flight and a bomb squad conducted a thorough check on the aircraft and baggage, which confirmed the information to be false.
“The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria will like to re-assure passengers and all airport users that our airports are safe and secure. They should carry on their lawful activities without any fear,” FAAN added.