Dutch and Nigerian officials say the two countries will begin using full-body scanners to tighten airport security after a Nigerian passenger - Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab - tried to blow up a U.S. airliner heading from Amsterdam to the Midwestern U.S. city of Detroit.
The scanners, unlike metal detectors, produce a whole-body image of a passenger and can reveal plastic or chemical explosives hidden in clothing.
Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority Director Harold Demuren said his government wants to make it impossible for terrorists to pass through all Nigerian airports.
“In combating the new trend of terrorism as unfolded recently, Nigerian government has approved that we upgrade our security screening system to 3-D total body imaging scanners,” he said.
Demuren rejected any suggestion that his government’s promise to upgrade its airport security was a smoke screen to avoid international criticism.
“I beg your pardon, we don’t make fake promises here. We mean business here. After the events that just unfolded, we don’t want Nigeria to be used as a transit for any mad terrorist…we want to make our airports so impossible to pass through,” Demuren said.
He said Nigerian airports are safe, having gone through a number of international inspections.
“Let me tell you this, Nigeria as a state has passed through International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) security audit of our airports successfully two times. Nigeria has passed through successfully American Transportation Security Administration audit twice for Lagos and Abuja airports,” he said.
Demuren also said would-be terror bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab also went through Amsterdam Airport undetected, even with that city’s advanced technology.
The 3-D full-body security scanners are controversial because they display a detailed image of a passenger's body on a computer screen.
Demuren said passengers should put their lives first before privacy.
“I can understand about privacy, but you must have your life first before you talk about privacy. If you are dead, even dogs will look at you and walk across you. So it’s important that you have to be alive, and to be alive, we must stop these terrorists before they kill us,” he said.
Demuren assured air travelers through Nigeria that the country’s security system is solid.
“We have zero tolerance when it comes aviation security and that’s we are upgrading our system to meet the latest challenges,” Demuren said.
He said Nigeria does not breed terrorists and it does not want terrorists to pass through its territory.