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The two bodies last year signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which will see them synergize in a renewed efforts to tackle piracy and other sea crimes in the country.
The MPA, an ATR 42-500 airplane took journalists on a demonstration flight from Lagos to Escravos in the Niger Delta and over offshore platforms in the oil-producing southeast to see how the onshore and offshore operations are monitored from thousands of meters above the sky.
The hi-tech plane is one of seven to be operated by both parties to make the maritime domain in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) safer.
Speaking at the pre-departure briefing, Sergeant Sunday Olalekan Omotosho, disclosed that the MPA is equipped with sensors, radar and Electro-Optic Surveillance and Tracking (EOST) equipment, which houses three cameras to monitor ships in Nigerian waters.
Also speaking on the airplane christened “Vigilance over the ocean”, Air Group Captain Enobong Eneh Effiom said: “When fully operational, no vessel can escape our coverage. The 20-seater plane can fly as low as 200 feet (60 metres) above the sea and passes on information about maritime traffic to the navy, who can intervene with fast-attack craft if necessary, he added. Our aim is to fight all manner of maritime crimes in the country. With this aircraft, we can spot any vessel hundreds of kilometres (miles) away”.
Meanwhile, the Director General of NIMASA, Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi said the agency under his leadership has made tremendous progress in various areas.
“One of them is the NIMASA Satellite Surveillance Centre (NSSC). We believe that for any sustainable and meaningful growth in the maritime sector, a robust maritime domain awareness system is inevitable. NIMASA had on August 26, 2013, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Air Force to enhance water patrol and aerial surveillance of Nigeria’s maritime domain. The partnership aims to further enhance the agency’s capacity in enforcing extant maritime laws, as well as monitor and secure the nation’s territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone (EZZ).
The partnership will also tackle pirates’ activities and other criminalities in the maritime sector. Remember our personnel cannot carry arms and since the sea criminals operate in a sophisticated manner, there is need to partner with the Air Force that has the statutory role of defending Nigeria’s territorial integrity.
“The Air Force will deploy its ATR 42-500 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) where necessary. It will also has Mi-35P, Augusta Light Utility Helicopters and very expedient, the alpha jets and associated platforms. This shows that we’re not taking the issue of sea crimes lightly because it has a frightening economic effect on the country and the Gulf of Guinea in general if not tackled headlong”, he explained.
Source: The Sun