In a bid to show to the world the efficiency of the country's security advancement,the Federal Government plans to deploy its surveillance satellite, Nig Sat-X, in the search of the seven abducted French tourists.
NigerianEYE learnt that the use of satellite was decided upon as part of measures to ensure the release of the tourists.
They men were abducted by gunmen mid-February on an isolated dirt track a few kilometres away from the border between Nigeria and Cameroon.
The four children and three adults, comprising a French engineer identified as Tanguy Moulin-Fourniers, his wife, brother and their four children, were taken across the border from Northern Cameroon to an unknown location in Nigeria on motorcycles.
A week later, they appeared in a video in which Moulin-Fourniers read a statement in French, claiming they were kidnapped by Boko Haram.
The group, however, denied involvement in the kidnap of the foreigners.
A breakaway faction of the group, Ansaru, claimed responsibility for the abduction of the foreigners.
A masked gunman also read a statement in the video, in which he called for the release of Boko Haram suspects held by the Nigerian government.
But a top security source said the satellite had to be used to assist security agents in finding the hostages.
The source, however, declined to disclose the progress of the operation or other countries involved in it “because of its sensitive nature.”
“We are doing a number of things on the matter but I cannot reveal them to you in order not to jeopardise ongoing efforts to get them released,” the source said.
The satellite has high resolution surveillance capabilities that can reveal buildings and surrounding landscape.
When contacted, the spokesperson for NARSDA, Mr. Felix Ale, said he had no details on the matter, as it was a “purely security issue.”
The Deputy Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, said the police were not involved in the operation to free the hostages, describing it as a purely military affair.
The State Security Service could not be reached for comment as its spokesperson, Marilyn Ogar, did not respond to calls to her phone.
When our correspondent contacted the Director of Defence Information, Col. Mohammed Yerima, he said he was not aware of any such move.
He said the military had nothing to do with the use of a satellite to search for the abducted French citizens.
He said, “Satellite? How does that concern the Joint Task Force? I’m not aware of such a thing.”
Nig Sat-X was built by Surrey Satellite Technology, United Kingdom.
When our correspondent contacted the company on the telephone, its spokesman, Joel Sykes, directed him back to NASRDA.
Last month, the Director-General of NARSDA, Dr. Sheidu Mohammed, was quoted as saying that Nig Sat-X had been deployed for surveillance purposes in Mali.
Speaking while receiving the Chief of Communications, Defence Headquarters, Abuja, Air Vice Marshal Sikiru Smith, in his office, the NARSDA DG said Nigerian troops in Mali had already been given images from some locations in northern Mali, in resolutions of 2.5 square meters.