FG frustrating plans by states to deploy drones, curb kidnap crisis

FG frustrating plans by states to deploy drones, curb kidnap crisis

Efforts by some state governments to obtain necessary safety and security clearances to launch Remotely Piloted Aircraft (drones) to tackle insecurity

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Efforts by some state governments to obtain necessary safety and security clearances to launch Remotely Piloted Aircraft (drones) to tackle insecurity in their domains appear to be failing due to the strict conditions stipulated by Federal Government agencies responsible for granting the approvals.

No state government, agency, organisation or individual is allowed to launch an RPA (drone) for any reason without obtaining approval from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the agency regulating safety and security in the country’s airspace, and the Office of the National Security Adviser.

According to Punch, some states have been in the process of getting safety and security clearances from the NCAA and the ONSA for almost two years now. Currently, some of the states that have made moves to deploy drones to tackle bandits, kidnappers, and killer herdsmen are Lagos, Osun, Ondo, Kaduna and Anambra. Among other things, the drones are meant to monitor and record the activities and hideouts of criminals, including bandits, kidnappers and killer herdsmen.

Officials of the NCAA and the ONSA, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to comment on security matters, said Lagos State, Osun State, Kaduna State, are yet to obtain the final approvals from the NCAA and the ONSA. It was also learnt that the Anambra State government suspended its move to get such a clearance after changing its strategy on security.

“The ONSA is very careful. They don’t want to just give approvals to state governments that will later abuse the privilege. Again, the ONSA office is reluctant because security agencies are under the Federal Government and as such, giving approvals to state governments to deploy drones is something that has to be done with necessary checks.

“Also, there is the need to carry out proper safety and security profiling on the security firms that will help the state governments to deploy the drones. So, it is a very detailed and important issue,” a top official privy to details of the state governments’ applications said.

Further findings revealed that many of the state governments had yet to train drone pilots who would fly the RPAs in line with the NCAA safety requirements, while security firms which would partner some of the states to train drone pilots had yet to get approvals from the NCAA.

“It is a long process. Before the states can be given RPA operating licence by the NCAA to launch drones, they need to come with End User Certificate from the NSA Office to the NCAA Office. We have since asked them to go and get that. Some of them have been in the process for about two years. Safety and security issues are involved in drone deployment and these must be cleared,” a top official at the Ministry of Aviation, who is privy to the development, said.