The international wing of Lagos’ Murtala Muhammed International Airport was briefly shut down early Thursday after a mangled body was discovered on Runway 18R of the country’s main airport.
As of press time, the identification of the body had not been determined. It was also unclear whether the deceased individual was struck by an aircraft taking off or landing on the runway.
The runway was briefly shut down, according to airport officials, while a team of officials from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and the Nigeria Police Force evacuated the body from the runway.
International flights were unable to land or take off from the airport’s international terminal during the runway’s temporary closure.
Ethiopian Airlines flight 3907, a Boeing 77F aircraft with the registration number ETAVN, was one of the flights that could not land due to the shutdown. It was flying from Lome, Togo to Lagos, Nigeria.
Following a brief wait, the airplane was diverted back to Lome.
The body was discovered on Runway 18R during a normal FAAN runway inspection, according to airport officials.
The officials were said to have reported a corpse on the runway around the cargo area.
The spokesperson for FAAN, Mrs. Faithful Avokerie Hope-Ivbaz, could not immediately confirm the incident, saying she had yet to be briefed on the development.
Also, the Police Public Relations Officer, Airport Command, Mr Olayinka Ojelade, said he had yet to get the requited signal on the incident.
He promised to get back. As of the time of filing this report, he had yet to do so. However, a top police official at the MMIA confirmed the development.
He said the command was called upon in the early hours of Thursday to evacuate the corpse from Runway 18R.
According to him, the police are still investigating the identity of the dead man and how he got to the security area of the international airport.
However, an aviation security expert and former Military Commandant of the MMIA, Group Captain John Ojikutu,retd, said there was a need to investigate how the unidentified man found his way into the sensitive area of the airport, describing the incident as a major security breach.
According to him, the perimeter fence of the MMIA is not a security fence, adding that this has exposed the airport to various security breaches.
Ojikutu said, “The authorities need to investigate how the man got to the airport. Nobody can say much now; but he may have been knocked down by the wingspan or undercarriage of a jumbo jet but it is too early to say anything like that now. But we need to examine the issue of houses that have been built too close to the Lagos airport. The rule says no building should be situated less than six metres to the airport structure or fence. However, we have seen cases of people crossing the runway before.
“The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and FAAN need to investigate this to ascertain what really happened. They need to find out the flights that landed before that incident. The current airport perimeter fence is not a security fence and we need to do something about it.”
Meanwhile, there have been a couple of airport security breaches in recent times.
A mishap was averted at the airside of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos some months ago when a speeding vehicle had a near collision with a Dana Air plane taxiing to take off on Runway 18L of the airport.
The unfortunate incident, which happened on December 21, 2021, occurred barely one week after a landing Max Air jet almost rammed into a malfunctioning car being tested on Runway 18L.
Also, there was pandemonium at the airside of the Lagos airport on December 27, 2019 when an unidentified man found his way into the airside mysteriously and mounted a moving Air Peace plane.
The man was later arrested by security operatives who were notified by the pilot of a private jet coming behind the Air Peace plane.
The incident happened barely six months after a man found his way into the Lagos airport and climbed a Port Harcourt-bound Azman Airlines plane.
The man, believed to be mentally ill, was later identified as Usman Adamu from the Republic of Niger.
The Police said the Nigerien could not speak or understand English Language.
The authorities said then that investigation was still ongoing to ascertain how Adamu gained access to the restricted area at the airport.