Security Agencies Hail Telecoms Shutdown In North-west As Residents Lament Negative Effects - OLAMORE
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Security Agencies Hail Telecoms Shutdown In North-west As Residents Lament Negative Effects

On September 3, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, ordered telecommunications companies to suspend their services in Zamfara as a way to curtail the activities of bandits.

States like Katsina and Sokoto also followed suit by shutting telecommunications services in some LGAs.

The decision to shut down telephone services in some of these states has sparked divergent views.

While security agencies who are facing off with bandits in region have hailed the decision, residents are groaning under the impact of the shutdown as they lament the untold hardship that came with it.

Security Agencies Say Telecoms Shutdown Has Eased Operation

The shutdown of telecommunication service has helped the war against bandits in Katsina State, security agencies have said.

Security heads in the state spoke on Tuesday when members of the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) visited the state.

The security heads said bandits used to ambush moving troops using information leaked through telecommunication means.

IPAC National President Dr. Leonard Nzenwa said the group was on a fact-finding mission in the state over banditry attacks.

He said: “The issue of insecurity in Katsina State is not as bad as it has been portrayed to the general public down there. The level of security challenges experienced in the state is not as serious as we have been hearing from far away. We are in Katsina State for a fact-finding mission, and also a rescue mission to know exactly the security situation on the ground. We have been hearing from far that Katsina is a no-go area because of the insecurity problem.

“But with this visit, what we have seen on the ground is not as serious as what we have been hearing or seeing on social media.’’

He commended the state government for the measures put in place to tackle the challenges.

The Special Assistant to Governor Aminu Masari on Security Matters, Alhaji Ibrahim Katsina, said security was improving due to the efforts of the state government.

He outlined some of the measures taken by the state government to include recruitment of vigilantes to handle the situation in their communities, establishment of conflict resolution centres in the state.

North-west Residents, Businesses Laments Telecoms Shutdown

A report by SB Morgan (SBM) Intelligence entitled; “Hostile reception – The impact of telephony shutdowns in North-West Nigeria,” found that residents and business in the north-west are currently bearing the brunt of the shutdown of telecommunications services in some states in the region

The report surveyed 679 people in the week ending on September 16, 2021, to ascertain the impact of the shutdown of telecoms services.

From the survey, 238 respondents residing in Kaduna were selected, 234 respondents in Katsina, and 207 respondents in Zamfara.

The findings of the survey revealed that all the respondents in Zamfara have no access to phone services, 13 per cent of the respondents in Kaduna have no access to phone services, while 3 per cent of respondents in Katsina have no access to phone services.

On the impact on business activities, 61 percent of the respondents in Zamfara that have no access to phone services said the shutdown directive negatively impacted their business activities, while others said it has a mild effect on their businesses.

In Kaduna, 62 percent of the respondents with no access to phone said the directive has had a minimal effect on their work and business, while 29 percent said it had impacted negatively.

In Katsina, 57 percent of the respondents who had lost phone services said the directive had a very little impact of the shutdown directives on their businesses and day-to-day work life while 14% of the respondents have experienced a huge impact on their businesses.

On the impact on the security situation, 43 percent of the respondents in Zamfara think the security situation has since improved, owing to the shutdown directive, while only 18 percent of the respondents in Kaduna and 14 percent in Katsina believe the security situation has improved in their respective state since the shutdown directive.

The report noted that businesses in Zamfara are also bearing much of the brunt of the shutdown, perhaps because its economy is more agrarian than either Kaduna or Katsina.

“In a region already struggling with poverty and a high dependency ratio which puts pressure on incomes, the residents of these states are paying a high price for the ongoing military operations,” the report reads.

“This high economic cost leads us to recommend cessation of the telephone shutdown, in order for residents to resume business and for security officials to take a dispassionate look at the efficacy of operations so far.

“One of the major underlying drivers of the security situation in the north-west is poverty. Any action or actions that are taken which indicate an increase in economic hardship must be short-term and closely linked to results, so as not to pour fuel on the fire.

“Another issue with the shutdown of telephone services is the potential lack of accountability for military actions on the battlefield. News coverage out of the north-west is already sparse, and the directives equate to a media blackout which means there is only one version of events.

“The impact on the fundamental rights of residents in the affected states cannot go unmentioned as well as the general public’s right to know what actions are being taken in the name of security.”

Impact On Telecoms Shutdown On Bandits

Mahe Musa, a local from a community in Zamfara, on Monday, said the bandits were starting to brainwash them to stage a protest against the decision of government to shutdown telecoms services and other measures taken by some state governments.

“The bandits have been boxed to a corner, they are not finding it easy,” he said.

“They no longer have access to supplies but because they have control over some communities, they are asking us to stage a protest so that the governments at the state and national levels would lift the restrictions imposed on movements, sale of petrol, cattle and movements in some areas.

“Traditional and religious leaders are sensitising people against any revolt, we would not listen to the bandits,” he said.

His colleague, Malam Aliyu corroborated saying some of the bandits were enticing the locals.

“They claimed they would stop attacking people once life comes back to normal. I don’t know what they meant by normal because they made life hell for people when they were moving freely,” he said.

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