The Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has dismissed PDP’s allegation of intimidation on its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, by the security operatives on arrival from Dubai on Sunday.
He explained that the former vice president was dignified as a senior citizen during the search.
Mr Atiku and the PDP had on Sunday alleged that he was searched and intimidated by combined team of airport security personnel at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Reacting to the allegation in a statement, Sirika, however, described Mr Atiku’s complaint as a mischievous attempt aimed at attracting media attention, saying the search conducted on Mr Atiku was a normal screening exercise being carried out on all passengers at the airport.
The statement read: “This is a mischievous attempt to grab the headlines. Nigerians need to know that one of the resolutions of the Atiku team at their recently-concluded, opulently-held Dubai retreat was to embark on scaremongering. This is one of such.
“For the records, all incoming passengers on international flights go through customs, immìgration, health and security screening.
“Where the aircraft is using the private, charter wing, as the PDP candidate did, such arrivals are met by a team of the Immìgration, customs and other security agencies. They go to the arriving aircraft as a team.
“The airport authorities confirm that this is a routine process, applying to all international arrivals, including the minister unless the passenger is the president of Nigeria.
“The president, the vice president and passengers aboard planes on the Presidential air fleet use the Presidential wing of the airport.
“It is also important to state that even in the Presidential Wing of the airport the President of Nigeria uses, there is the presence of Immìgration and other security officials who must stamp his or her passport on arrival.”
The minister further explained that by standard procedure, all aircraft on international arrivals must first of all park at the international wing of the aircraft.
He added that such aircraft could move to the domestic terminal only upon the completion of the arrival requirements.
“While it is true that the Task Force on Currency at the airport did the routine action of checking the former vice president’s travel bag, he was accorded full respect as a senior citizen.
“These checks are mandatory, conventional, internationally applied and routine. No one is excused from them under our laws.
“These checks are carried out on all international arrivals and President Buhari does not get involved in them.
“Law-abiding citizens are encouraged to respect the laws of the country and our VIPs should not seek to be treated over and above the citizens they wish to serve.”