A relatively peaceful Arik Air flight from Maiduguri to Abuja was thrown into chaos when a passenger suddenly stood up from his seat and started shouting “Allahu Akbar”. Other passengers grew apprehensive as they believed that he was a terrorist who wanted to blow up the plane and tsome of them jumped up, grabbed him and searched him to see if he had any suspicious item on him.
The pilot radioed traffic control and airport security operatives were waiting when the plan landed.
The incident however set off rumours around the country as news circulated that there was a bomb scare on the Arik Air flight.
In a statement, a special assistant to the Minister of Aviation confirmed the incident and debunked the rumours saying, “ Yhe rumour making the rounds of a bomb scare on an Arik Air flight from Maiduguri to Abuja is absolutely false. In fact, it is a hoax as there is no iota of truth whatsoever in this wicked rumour.”
“A passenger, Aminu Galadima, a native of Minna, Niger State, boarded a Maiduguri-Abuja- bound Arik Air aircraft with registration number 5N MJE after going through mandatory security screening. Nothing incriminating; no explosives or weapons whatsoever were found on him.
“However, midair, the passenger began to act strangely and started screaming loudly “Allahu Akbar” and other passengers, alarmed by his behaviour rushed to apprehend him. A thorough search by fellow passengers and crew members revealed nothing dangerous on him. The pilot immediately radioed Air Traffic Control and airport security operatives.
“The plane landed safely at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at exactly 12.53hrs and the suspect was handed over to the SSS at about 14.45hrs. He is currently being interrogated.”
Arik Air also released a statement which said, “To set the records straight, a passenger on board flight W3 812 from Maiduguri to Abuja caused a scare when he started shouting Allahu Akbar shortly before the aircraft landed at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
“Frightened passengers on board the flight became suspicious thinking the man was about to do something sinister.
“All the passengers on board the flight, including the man in question, had all gone through the normal security check at the Maiduguri International Airport and nothing incriminating was found on anyone.
“However, when the aircraft landed in Abuja, another security check was conducted on the passenger and nothing incriminating was found on him. A further security search was conducted on the operating aircraft, a Boeing 737-700 NG (Next Generation) and no trace of bomb or explosives were found. The aircraft went back to service immediately.
“Arik Air wishes to assure guests that all its flights undergo strict security checks and passengers have nothing to fear. The airline’s Aviation Security Department is one the most sophisticated in the industry and its commitment to security and safety of passengers is second to none in Africa.”