-Panic as Abuja-bound passenger shouts Allahu Akbar- His family claims he’s mentally unstable, says SSS
There was panic aboard an Arik Air flight yesterday when a passenger suddenly sprang up from his seat, shouting: Allahu Akbar (God is great).Some other passengers overpowered Aminu Galadima, apparently believing that he was about to detonate a bomb.
The passengers, supported by the crew, searched the man, after pinning him down to his seat. But nothing incriminating was found on him.
The Abuja-bound afternoon flight from Maiduguri – hotbed of the Boko Haram insurgency – was barely 10 minutes into flight time when the incident occurred.
Galadima was handed over to the State Security Services (SSS) operatives on landing at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja.
The incident sent tongues wagging across the nation.
Aviation Minister Mrs Stella Oduah, in a statement by his Special Assistant Joe Obi explained what happened on board the aircraft.
She said: “The 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, an indigene of Minna, Niger State, boarded a Maiduguri – Abuja bound Arik Air aircraft with registration number 5N MJE after going through all mandatory security screening.
“Nothing incriminating, no explosives or weapons whatsoever were found on him.
“However, mid-air the passenger began to act strangely, loudly screaming ‘’God is Great”. Fellow passengers, alarmed by this 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 1253 hrs and the suspect was handed over to the SSS at about 1445 hrs where he is currently being interrogated.
“We wish to reassure the flying public of the continued focus of the Federal Ministry of Aviation on the safety and security of the nation’s airspace, while cautioning fellow Nigerians on the spreading of dangerous rumours.
“These rumours do not help to make our airspace either safer or more secure.”
The SSS which has started interrogating the suspect, also issued a statement.
Its Deputy Director, Public Relations, Ms Marilyn Ogar, said: “On Friday, 19th October, 2012, wife of the SSG to the Borno State Government, Hajia Yachilla Jidda, travelled to Maiduguri in company of one Aminu S. Galadima, an interior decorator based in Abuja, to do some interior decoration work. On arrival in Maiduguri, he was lodged at Greenland hotel.
“During the course of his stay, he exhibited unusual behaviour by smashing a window, and ended up with lacerations on his hands.
“The SSG was contacted, and in collaboration with the Hotel management, subject was taken to Atal Hospital, also in Maiduguri, where he received treatment.
“His family in Abuja was contacted and they gave confirmation that Galadima has been mentally unstable. In addition, his elder brother, who lives in the UK, was contacted and he requested that subject be returned to Abuja for medical attention.
“On Sunday, 21st October, 2012, he was taken to the airport to be returned to Abuja, but missed the flight. However, the airport management was informed of his state of health, and they advised that whenever his return is scheduled, the management should be notified.
“Unfortunately, when Galadima was taken to the airport on 23rd October for his return trip, the management of the airport was not informed, and 10 minutes into the flight, due to slight turbulence, his condition was triggered off.
“Meanwhile, Galadima is in the custody of security forces. This clarification has become necessary to dispel the unfounded rumours concerning the flight.”