By Ime Akpan Lagos
Th e sound of explosion heard around the hajj and cargo terminal of the international wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport about 9am yesterday caused panic and sent airport users and intending pilgrims scampering off in fright. One source said the bag had been at that spot since Monday evening when some pilgrims from Lagos state were airlifted. It was gathered airport workers called the attention of the bomb disposal personnel to the bag. It was gathered that the bomb disposal personnel blew up the bag which produced a loud report.
However, after blasting of the luggage, it was discovered that it contained booklets left by the Lagos state Pilgrims and Welfare Board. Th e booklets it was learnt were distributed to pilgrims distributed to the pilgrims prior to their travel for the hajj. It was also gathered that the booklets were unused and ought to have been returned to the board by the Lagos state offi cials.
“We all resumed for work this morning to fi nd an unaccompanied bag. At fi rst, we thought it belonged to one of the offi cials here, but none claimed ownership. “You know, because of the security situation in the country, you can’t leave anything to chance. So, we had to call the bomb disposal people who came and blew up the bag. We discovered that it contained booklets issued to pilgrims by Lagos state offi cials.
“Th e blasting caused some damage to our building. Nevertheless, it was good we alerted the authorities,” said the source. In its reaction, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) confi rmed the incident, saying there was no bomb scare and assured that “the terminal is secure for fl ight operations.” In a statement issued by FAAN’s general manager, corporate aff airs, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, the agency said: “About 9:30am, an unattended bag was noticed at the Hajj and Cargo terminal, after the departure of the 4th fl ight for the intending pilgrims.
“Th e chief security offi cer of the FAAN, Hajj and Cargo Terminal, as well as the Bomb Disposal Unit, was contacted and began the process of fi nding out the owner and the content of the bag. “No one claimed ownership of the bag, so the decision to blow up the bag using an explosive device was made, which in turn caused some panic amongst the second batch of intending pilgrims waiting.