THERE were anxious moments last Friday at the Port Harcourt International Airport when a passenger on board a Lagos-bound Aero aircraft attempted to disembark from the plane at the point of take-off. His action triggered off suspicion in other passengers that he might have planted a bomb in the plane and was struggling to disembark before the plane could take off.
Trouble started when the suspect said to be of unstable character insisted on getting off the plane despite pleas by cabin attendants to remain, as his action was against aviation rules.
The Captain, according to an official of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mrs. Ebele Okay, who commented on the incident, called the arrest of the odd passenger to douse the tension in the cabin.
Thereafter, passengers were asked to disembark for a second round of screening. The flight, originally scheduled for 12 noon, had been delayed till 3.00pm due to poor weather conditions but had had to suffer further delay as the 150 passengers quickly held a meeting at the International Lounge of the airport, where they were gathered, and took a decision to be flown on a different plane.
Sensing Danger, the police anti-bomb unit at the airport and officials of FAAN as well as the airline management moved to address the aggrieved passengers with assurances that proper screening had been conducted on every department of the plane including baggage and passengers.
Mrs. Ebele said the resolve of the Captain of the aircraft to call for a more thorough screening of passengers was in order and in the interest of all.
David Azuruigbo head of the Police, Air port anti-bomb unit also urged the passengers not to panic as the entire aircraft, including the luggage, had been properly re-scanned for any hidden explosive on board.
He said the fellow, who caused the scare had been effectively contained and would be made to answer serious questions.
It, however, took very strong persuasion by the authorities of the airport to convince the visibly scared passengers to proceed for boarding, which eventually took place at about 4.00pm.