by Tunji Abioye
There was pandemonium at the arrival wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos on Tuesday as officials and security men sought to unravel the content of an abandoned bag found at the busy airport.
The PUNCH had gathered that airport officials invited the police anti-bomb squad to examine the bag after waiting, vainly, for hours for the bag to be claimed.
The incident started at about 7:30pm and lasted for about an hour. Our correspondent gathered that the police, on arriving at the scene, had ordered the evacuation of all travelers and airport workers from the building.
The order reportedly threw the gathering of passengers, airport workers and other users of the facility into confusion.
The confusion, according to an eyewitness, deepened after the bag emitted a loud sound while the anti-bomb policemen were trying to open it. On hearing the bang, those present at the airport at the time reportedly took to their heels.
However, after it was opened by men of the anti bomb squad the bag was discovered to contain the personal effects of a British Airways passenger.
Hours after the incident, British tabloid, the Daily Mail, reported that a blast tore through the cargo section of the airport.
However, a statement by the Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Dr. H.O. Demuren, late last night, said the bag belonged to a British Airways passenger named Salami A. Atolagbe-Aro.
The stament titled, No Bomb Blast at MMIA, reads, “It was an abandoned carry-on baggage/handbag with a British Airways tag with passenger name Salami A. Atolagbe-Aro that was discovered at E-Arr frontage 1948hrs.
“The bag was thereafter diffused (sic) by three men from the Police Bomb Disposal Unit at about 2058hrs. The contents of the bag were taken and (they) were personal effects and are currently in the custody of the FAAN Aviation Security Crime Investigation Bureau.
“BA has confirmed that the passenger actually arrived on their flight this evening. The bag was sighted by Avsec officers unattended and the Police Bomb Disposal Unit personnel called in as standard procedure.
“They placed the bag under surveillance and went ahead to open it and thus creating the sound. No bomb explosion.”
There have been speculations that the fundamentalist Islamic sect, Boko Haram, could attack Lagos as parts of its campaign of violence against the Federal Government.
As a result, the airport authorities have increased security at the local and international airports.
Confirming the incident, the Commissioner of Police, Airport Command, Mr. James Olatunji, said the speed with which the Bomb Disposal Unit arrived at the scene might have caused the apprehension at the airport.
“You know when the Anti Bomb Disposal Unit people parked their vehicle at the scene and started examining the bag, the scene created apprehension. There was really nothing.
“We have discovered that the bag was left by a passenger that arrived aboard British Airways this evening. BA has confirmed that and they are trying to get the passenger to know why the bag was left,” he said.
Meanwhile, security men were said to have been deployed at sensitive positions at the airport following the development.
About two weeks ago, the airport command of the police had beefed up security at the airport following the bombing of media houses in Abuja and Kaduna.
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