By Nicholas Kalu:
IT looked like a scene in a horror film, where an actor, driving a car, sped towards an aircraft with the intention of blowing it up.
What would have been a calamity was averted at the Margaret Ekpo International Airport, when a man drove a blue Audi car with Cross River State registration number, XA 254 KAM, towards a Boeing 737 Arik commercial aircraft, marked 5N-MJJ, which was preparing to take off with 95 passengers on board.
The driver, it was learnt, gained access to the tarmac through the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) section of the airport.
He reportedly knocked down the two gates, blocking access to the airport through the Air Force section and sped towards the Abuja-bound aircraft, which was just preparing to taxi down the runway for take off.
The intention appeared to be to blow up the aircraft on impact as the car went for the fuel tank.
The visibly-shaken passengers who were afraid it could be another act of terrorism said they were just settling in for their flight when they heard a loud bang.
This set off the aircraft’s alarm, leading the crew to ask them to disembark.
At first, some of the passengers said they thought it was a fire.
But when they found out that a car on full speed had rammed into the fuel tank of the aircraft, pandemonium ensued and everybody scampered down the gangway to the relative safety of the departure hall.
They expressed shock that security at the airport could be so porous that a man could easily get access to an aircraft on the tarmac.
A passenger who did not want his name in print said: “It was just a miracle that he was not successful because he got to our plane quite all right and hit it the way he wanted to. God sure has a hand in this. If he had a bomb on him, by now, it would be a different story.
“How can a commercial vehicle ram through two gates of the Air Force and get to the tarmac and hit an airplane preparing to take off? This is an indication of the security lapses in the country.”
When our reporter visited the scene of the incident, the blue car was still squeezed beneath the belly of the plane.
The driver of the vehicle who was arrested and mercilessly beaten up by security agents at the airport shocked all, as he said that if given the opportunity, he would repeat the act.
The man who appeared demented called everyone present at the scene “a sinner”, saying they all deserved to die.
Despite bruises all over his body, he kept shouting that “every human being is wicked and deserves to go to hell except they repent.”
He lamented that “people in the world are turning away from God.”
The pilot of the aircraft, Captain Simon Robinson, expressed shock, as everyone else, over the incident.
He said he was at the cockpit when he heard the bang, adding that when the crew realised what was going on, they quickly evacuate all the passengers to safety.
As at press time yesterday, a team of engineers from Arik Air were busy lifting the aircraft from the ground to pull out the car.
Officers of the Nigerian Air Force, the police and airport authorities at the scene refused to comment on the issue, saying investigations into the matter would begin immediately.
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