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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hi-Tech solutions against incessant bombing

Calls have been made to those in authority, especial President Goodluck Jonathan to look towards Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for solution against incessant bombing in the country, reports REMMY NWEKE.

JUST fortnight ago, a bomb blast was visited on the headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force in Abuja, but one thing seems clear that either the police leadership is not listening to the yellings of modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) experts in the country or that they lack the political will to preside over the nation’s security.

It is not longer news that today America cannot be attacked through the air, except in the case of internal attacks emanating from the United States itself like that of September 11.

At the bottom is the smartness of technologies and Nigeria cannot be said to be suffering from the Aphasia - lack of ability to understand, mostly why its imperative to ‘cheetah-leap’ instead of ‘leapfrogging’ in this case of arresting the rising terrorism in the country. Unfortunately the security forces seem to be adamant about the use of technology to aid their work if not make it simple, mostly in battling bomb blasts.

It was on this stead that ICT experts inclined to security issues have called again on government, particularly President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to tap into ICT-based security applications to mitigate the problem posed by the incessant bombing in the country.

For instance, Abuja assumed another dimension since he assumed office with incessant bombing; from purported Henry Okah-led MEND to Boko Haram, most of who reportedly abhor Western education and civil lives and wants everything else to remain archaic.

This notwithstanding, it was not surprising that ICT experts agreed in stating that technologies have roles to play in ensuring the security of the nation remains intact. They also said this could only happen when the leadership of the three tiers of government appreciate the capabilities of ICT and began to deploy same for the benefit of the country.

Responding on the bombing of Police headquarter, the executive chairman of Technology Development Company (TDC), Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem and chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo, who both condemned the bombing.

They tasked the duo of the president and commander in chief, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Hafiz Ringim to look toward ICT in order to effectively solve the incessant bomb blasts in the country.

For Ekuwem, the federal and state governments should show greater appreciation for technologies with capabilities to enhance the automation of national security operations. This, according to him, is in order to effectively check the increasing spate of bombings in different parts of the country.

Though he blamed recent bomb blasts on government and security leadership in the country, Ekuwem noted that for the growing acts of insecurity, mostly on the slow pace of relevant government agencies to appreciate the urgent need to deploy advanced technologies to improve on effective security surveillance, monitoring and policing across the nation.

“They are not responding fast to the concerns of President Jonathan to keep Nigeria safe and secure. The President has made security one of his top priorities”, Ekuwem emphasized, condemning in very strong terms the recent bomb incidence as well as others that took place before now and advised to recognize the value of installing hi-tech scanning devices in strategic locations, maintaining that except with ICT deployment for security, the kind of security breaches such as the ugly occurrences at police headquarter witnessed in recent times will not be abated.

Ekuwem who also is the immediate past National President of the Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) described as unfortunate that bomb could not even be detected at the entrance to the Police Headquarters, adding its a clear indication that much still needs to be done to improve security surveillance, monitoring and policing operations.

Nigeria, he said, has a very robust ICT industry with enough experts to help the government devise water-tight security across the country, but one wonders why these relevant government agencies are not very sufficiently keen on taking advantage of the enormous power of ICT to leverage national security operations as it is the case in advanced countries of the world.

He explained that there are modern technologies like Vehicle and Cargo Scanning System (VACIS) that enable scanning of every piece of cargo, container, truck and vehicles that enter Nigeria at the seaports, airports and inland border posts.

“Even if criminals weld the explosives or bombs or whatever into the panel or chassis of the vehicles, the scanners will pick them out. The scanning radiation can penetrate six inches of concrete and very thick steel materials,” he said.

Additionally, he said, the vehicle-mounted mobile ones will periodically or at a tip-off go on city scanning patrols with the ability to capture the number plates, biometrics of the driver as well as photographs and video clips of each port/border crossing into Nigeria by any cargo, container, truck, tanker or vehicle.

Explaining further, he said, this tool could scan on specific highways within Nigeria, roads, check-points, inland waterways, streets and roads leading to and entrances to big complexes like the Police headquarters, Federal Secretariat, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Eagle Square, Central Bank of Nigeria, National Assembly, Presidential Villa, and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja, contents of cars, trucks, tankers, boats and ferries as the need arise.

Ekuwem elucidated that the scanned bulk material data, the image and video could be monitored in-situ as well as remotely, and the same outputs stored locally and remotely while stored data, could be accessed remotely on a password-restricted basis.

Maintaining that when such security surveillance and monitoring facilities are installed in all major or strategic locations throughout Nigeria, security operatives will be able to detect and intercept bombs, explosives, arms and ammunitions as well as apprehend the criminals.

Equally he said, there are fixed and mobile gamma and x-ray scanning devices that could be installed at strategic locations to monitor vehicles and persons with a view to checking the movement of arms and ammunitions including all sorts of dangerous weapons.

He expressed the believe that other security breaches could be curbed if the security agencies could avail themselves of advanced ICT-based security technologies that are built to mitigate intrusion sensing/detection, national identity data capture and management, biometrics data capture and storage, password-restricted access to stored data for both local and remote access, village-wide, town-wide, city-wide, state-wide and nation-wide surveillance (video with bi-directional audio) with local/in-situ, distributed and central/national storage/archiving with password-restricted access as well as with date-and-time-specific playback devices for crime monitoring, detection and investigations.

He insisted that Nigeria’s ICT industry has what it takes to assist the nation to check the growing insecurity by establishing criminal databases with exciting agency-specific graphical user interfaces for use by law enforcement agencies. Emphasizing that the government has no reason to appear helpless at this time of serious national security crisis when there exist quantum technologies that could be relied upon for effective preventive remedies.

He said it was not just enough to procure pieces of security equipment from businessmen with purely commercial interest. He opines that government must look out for reputable and patriotic professionals who possess the relevant expertise that would ensure the workability of every piece of security equipment procured for the country.

“ICT can help, with enabling legislations by the National Assembly, to intercept criminal discussions and conversations in our ICT networks by criminals prior to or during or after crimes. We can enable the retention by telecom operators and Internet service providers of call data and catch word-specific Internet and Intranet content for a reasonably long period of time to aid criminal investigations when queried by appropriate software engines. This will check crimes at the planning stages and place our security operatives ahead of criminals’ activities,” Ekuwem said, even as he recalled ICT Security Emergency summit held last year in Lagos, was a platform to address such an issue as threat of insecurity and how to deal with it via technologies.

In his reactions, the Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr. Gbenga Adebayo said that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have roles to play in ensuring the security of the nation at this era.

ICT, he said, should be used for surveillance, especially by deploying Internet Protocol (IP)-based cameras across country.

This, Adebayo pointed out could be deployed by taking connections through mobile Internet services and connected to video monitoring centres across the country.

He, therefore, urged the government to take this issue very seriously and treat it with the obvious urgency it require, so as to ensure the country is entire safe both for the citizens and investors alike.

For the President, Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON), Dr. Ona Ekhomu, the bombing of Louis Edet House is a “satanic act of terror and evil personified.”

He also said the bombing was most unfortunate and constituted a test of the Nigerian security system, noting that the criminal bombing was made possible by vulnerabilities in the perimeter security in Louis Edet, which the terrorists discovered through diligent surveillance of the Force Headquarters.

According to him, access control measures at the police headquarters were inadequate to contain the Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) threats manifested namely in the vehicle bomb threat.

He condoled with the families of the victims of the bombing attack and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), whose organization was targeted, saying “the Bokites (Boko Haram terrorists) have been consistent in their attacks against police personnel, police stations and government facilities. The FHQ vehicle bomb was one in a series of teleological attacks.”

On the negative impact of the attack on image of Nigeria, Ekhomu appealed to the international community and Nigeria’s development partners to understand that extremists are inexorable in their attacks and have to be lucky, once in order to cause death and destruction.

The Nigerian security community, he said, was capable of protecting people and assets from extremist attacks, however, Ekhomu called on the Police authorities to urgently increase the protection in all government buildings, infrastructure facilities and other key points against further bomb attacks.

He described Boko Haram which claimed responsibility for the attack as an affiliate of Al Qaeda network, opining that they could have attacked the force Headquarters in order to mark 40 days of the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

He condemned the first suicide bombing attack in the country as evil, cowardly and heinous.

He further disclosed that AISSON is planning a security conference in Lagos on June 30, to provide skills in counter-terrorism to members of the public, stressing that the theme is “Combating Terrorism in Nigeria.”

Above all, the fact that ICT has roles to play in salvaging the situation for the security agencies in the country cannot be over-emphasised, rather right steps to mitigate the problems posed by the likes of Boko Haram, must be taken very seriously in order to alleviate if not win the war against terrorism in this part of the world.

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1 comment:

Robert Thorne said...

Hi-tech is good, but some old school methods still work as well. Otherwise, I don't think people would bother getting insurance from places like philippine prudential to cover their buildings in case it does get damaged.