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NIMASA’s satellite surveillance system down in 2017-Sources

NIMASA’s satellite surveillance system down in 2017-Sources

NIMASA

Paul Ogbuokiri

Indications were rife on Friday that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency’s (NIMASA’s) strategic satellite surveillance system have been out of operation for over one year, sources close to the maritime regulator revealed.
When in operation, trained NIMASA experts at the comfort of their office at the NIMASA headquarters on Burma Road, Apapa, Lagos, use the surveillance equipment to monitor the movement and activities of vessels on Nigeria’s territorial waters.
Sunday Telegraph learnt that the dysfunctional multi-million dollar world-class surveillance equipment is responsible for why Nigeria failed to stop pirate attacks on ships and sea robbery in the Nigerian maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea in recent times.
The system had the capacity of detecting movements and activities of ships, boats and other crafts operating within the nation’s waters with a reconnaissance back up of a functional helicopter for patrol, pursuit and interdiction.
The surveillance system, when in full operation, had assisted in maritime security beyond the nation’s waters and neighbouring countries benefited from its operations then.
Under the former administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, the system was proven to be useful in the various Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) NIMASA had and consistently renewed with various security agencies.
Sources at the agency disclosed that the system which was installed by the immediate past Director General of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, stopped functioning after officials that man and operate it were whisked away and detained by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations of fraud.
Upon the arrests, detention and release, the affected staff members were said to have quietly exited the agency leaving the satellite surveillance system under the watch of persons with very little or no knowledge of its workings.
When it was in operation, the NIMASA satellite surveillance system team, in conjunction with the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Air Force assisted in the successful rescue of a Ghanaian Fishing Vessel, Marine 711 from suspected hijackers on Thursday, June 5, 2014.
The Ghanaian registered vessel was reportedly hijacked off the coast of Ghana and sailed across Togo and Benin Republic to the Nigerian waters when the Embassy of the Republic of Korea contacted NIMASA to help rescue the vessel, which is owned by its national.
The Ghanaian Fisheries Authority and the operators of the Fishing Vessel had joined in requesting NIMASA to bring the incident to a logical conclusion. In a swift operation coordinated by Capt. Warredi Enisuoh, NIMASA’s then Director of Shipping Development, the Agency’s satellite surveillance system with Cloud Penetrating Radar capabilities was brought to bear and the incident was resolved within six hours.
For the whole of 2016 and 2017, no such feat was achieved by NIMASA as the agency went silent on issues and achievements of the surveillance system, leaving the pirates and sea robbers to operate freely on Nigerian waters.
The international Maritime Bureau (IMB) had in a recently released 2017 piracy report, described Nigerian waters as still unsafe for navigation.
NIMASA and the Federal Ministry of Transportation are locked in a controversy with the Nigerian Navy over allegations of incompetence by the Navy to secure our waters necessitating the need for an Israeli firm to secure the waters. This is coming as NIMASA is yet to bring this principal operational backup into operation.
The House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions is presently investigating the issue. Last week Public Hearing on the Matter was stalled as Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi was absent from the meeting that was attended by the Navy and other invitees.
A Director in the Transport Ministry who represented the Minister, told the Committee that Amaechi who attending the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting which coincided with the hearing
When contacted on the status of the satellite surveillance system, NIMASA spokesman, Isichei Osamgbi , said the system is still working adding that it’s one of its technology driven installations to enhance maritime security in the country.

 Source: NewTelegraph