China’s Long March-3B carrier rocket lifts off at the Xichang Satellite Launch
Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, Dec. 20, 2011, successfully sending the US$311 million Nigerian
communication satellite, NIGCOMSAT-1R, into orbit at 00:41 Beijing Time
(Photo Credit: XINHUA)
16 May, 2013
IMAGES from three Nigerian satellites – NigeriaSat-1, NigeriaSat-X, and
NigeriaSat-2- released recently by the
National Space Research Development
Agency (NASRDA) on the extent of
damage caused by Military intervention at Baga, Borno State, have shown
remarkable difference with that
published on April 30, 2013 by the Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Baga is a town in the northeastern
Nigerian state of Borno, close to Lake
Chad, and lying northeast of the town of
Kukawa. The images showed there were burnt scars and building damages mainly in the southern fringe of Baga Town but the area defined is about 54,000sq.m and not 80,000sm2 as claimed by the HRW. The HRW had published a damage assessment of Baga town, which has generated a lot of media reports and reactions. The assessment as it portray,was carried out using satellite imagery of April 6 (pre-violence) and April 26 (post-violence) of in Baga respectively.
But a review of HRW damage assessment with the images from the Nigerian Satellites by Director General of NASRDA,Dr. Seidu O. Mohammed, found the area covered by the fire scars identified as damaged areas by the HRW is about 11,000m2; the satellites detected active fire zones include largely thatched fences and frontages; the 11,000m2 can approximately take three standard football fields(100mx50m); the town is largely a squatter settlement in structure and the building structures are largely traditional types with extensions/
frontages with thatched/mud brick hedges/fences.
The NASRDA review showed that from
the image overlay analysis, the area
(11,000m2) cannot logically house 2,400
damaged buildings with 2,275 destroyed and 125 severely damaged, claimed to be identified in the study area by HRW. The agency also found that going by the above estimate of 2400 damaged buildings, and the actual size of the area with burn scars (equivalent to three standard football fields), it is presumed that 800 buildings exist on a standard football field (5000m2). The review also observed that the estimation of the number of damaged building were about 80 per cent exaggerated, because the process of generating the information was purely a desktop approach and without any ground truthing exercise to validate the time, extent, trend and land use activities; leading to huge misinterpretation of features such as
buildings, trees, fences, open courtyards,
uninhabited plots, etc were counted as same features as building.
The review is titled “Satellite Imagery
Analysis of Baga and Environs, Borno
State, Nigeria.” Mohammed said the aim of the review was to carry out quick look validation of the damage assessment presented by HRW using multi-stage satellite imagery (Image sets used by HRW, NigeriaSat-1, NigeriaSat-X, and NigeriaSat-2 VHRI: 2.5m and 5m);identify some critical technical assumptions in the damage assessment report, leading to HRW spurious findings and conclusions; contrast the most probable damage assessment Baga Town; and advice on the best-practice for handling similar issues in the future.
Mohammed concluded: “It is very true
that images don’t lie, but the
interpretation of features that occur in an area, and captured with scientific
satellites must be interpreted with the
effective ground knowledge (in-situ), history and land use activities for
accurate results. Therefore, due to the
sensitive nature and the security
implication of the violence in Baga and
environs, and Nigeria at large, satellite
imagery must be carefully validated to authenticate the time, pattern, extent,
and land use activities of a disaster area
The HRW had last week presented
evidence in form of satellite images
showing abuse by the Nigerian military
as it clashed with suspected Boko Haram
militants.HRW claimed that 2,275 homes were ruined based on analysed satellite images contrary to the military’s assertion that only 30 houses were destroyed during the raid on Baga on April 16 and 17. HRW urged the Nigerian government to impartially investigate and prosecute soldiers responsible for the Baga debacle.
Africa director at HRW, Daniel Bekele,
said: “The Nigerian military has a duty to protect itself and the population from
Boko Haram attacks, but the evidence
indicates that it engaged more in
destruction than in protection.” There has been claims and counter claims
on the actual number of casualties,
ranging from 25 to 185 people depending on the source of information, but the military said 30, one soldier and six civilians died while a Senior Special Assistant to President, Doyin Okupe told
Channels TV that only 25 people died.
It should be noted that, the following
disclaimer was attached by the HRW to
their desktop findings: “These results are preliminary and are subject to revision or correction pending additional imagery review, new testimony and/or ground verification.”
The Nigerian government has launched five satellites into outer space. Early plan to launch a national satellite in 1976 was not executed. The NigeriaSat-1 was the first Nigerian satellite and built by a United Kingdom-based satellite technology Surrey Space
Technology Limited (SSTL) Company
under the Nigerian government
sponsorship for $30 million. The satellite was launched by Kosmos-3M rocket from Russian Plesetsk spaceport on September 27, 2003. Nigeriasat-1 was
part of the worldwide Disaster
Monitoring Constellation System.
NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X were built as a high-resolution earth
satellite by SSTL for DMC system also. It
has 2.5-metre resolution panchromatic
(very high resolution), 5-metre
multispectral (high resolution, NIR red, green and red bands), and 32-metre
multispectral (medium resolution, NIR
red, green and red bands) antennas. The NigeriaSat-2/X spacecraft was built at a cost of over £35 million (citation needed). This satellite was launched into orbit by Ukrainian Dnepr rocket from a Yasny military base in Russia on 17 August 2011.
NigComSat-1, a Nigerian satellite ordered and built in China in 2004, was Nigeria’s second satellite and Africa’s first communication satellite. It was launched on 13 May 2007, aboard a Chinese Long March 3B carrier rocket, from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in China. On November 11, 2008, NigComSat-1 failed in orbit after running out of power due to an anomaly in its solar array. It was based on the Chinese DFH-4 satellite bus and carries a variety of transponders: 4 C-band; 14 Ku-band; 8 Ka- band; and 2 L-band. It was designed to provide coverage to many parts of Africa and the Ka-band transponders would also cover Italy.
However, NigComSat-1R was launched by China on 19 December 2011, to replace the lost NigComSat-1, at no cost to Nigeria.
Nigeria were the first export customer to acquire a Chinese-built satellite and to use its launching service