By Muhyideen Jimoh
The federal government has resolved to refurbish three grounded Nigeria Immigration Service surveillance aircraft to boost security at the nation’s borders.
The Minister of Interior, retired Lt.-Gen Abdulrahman Dambazau, said on Thursday when he inspected the Service’s air patrol base in Kaduna.
He said that due to paucity of funds, the government had settled for the option of refurbishing the planes instead of buying new ones.
Dambazau said the rehabilitation of the aircrafts would be completed before the end of 2017.
He explained that purchasing a new patrol aircraft would cost at least five million dollars, “which is very expensive at this point in time considering the myriad of challenges confronting the country’’.
He stressed that the need for air surveillance to complement land border patrols to effectively secure the nation’s borders.
The minister said that due to the old model of the aircrafts, there would be need to upgrade them with modern facilities like the night patrol vision cameras and area mapping and surveillance cameras for effective service.
“We are looking at all possible ways to upgrade these aircrafts before the end of the year.
“We cannot effectively secure our expansive and porous borders which spans over 4,500 kilometres without the use of these aircrafts,” he said.
Dambazau said that apart from border management, the aircrafts when operational, would also help check cross-border crimes such as terrorism, drugs trade and human trafficking.
He said that security measures currently being taken by the government were part of plans to secure the nation and attract foreign investors to the country.
Earlier, the Comptroller-General of NIS, Mr Muhammad Babandede, said that effective air and land border patrols were imperative for securing the nation from terrorism and other trans-border crimes.
He said that apart from resuscitating the patrol aircrafts, the service was also intensifying its land patrols with sophisticated vehicles and bikes to protect the nation’s borders.
Babandede said that the NIS had started the process of re-training its pilots, engineers and border patrol officers in line with international best practice.
The three grounded aircraft are Dornier 228 types, configured for mission patrols and equipped with on board stabilised long range observation system and aerial cameras.