Exactly six months after declaring Zamfara State a ‘no fly zone’, the Federal Government through the Nigerian Communications Commission has asked some major telecommunications firms to shut down some communication sites in Zamfara State, Saturday PUNCH has learnt.
A leaked memo signed by the Executive Vice-Chairman of the NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, which was addressed to one of the telecoms operators, stated that the shutdown of the telecoms sites had become necessary due to the insecurity in the state.
In the letter titled, ‘Re: Shutdown of All telecoms Sites in Zamfara States’, it was stated that the shutdown would last from September 3 to September 17.
It read in part, “The pervading security situation in Zamfara has necessitated an immediate shutdown of all telecommunications services in the state from today, September 3, 2021. This is to enable relevant security agencies to carry out the required activities towards addressing the security challenge in the state.
“In line with this requirement, Globalcom is hereby directed to shut down all sites in Zamfara State and any states in neighbouring states that could provide telecommunications services in Zamfara State. The site shut down is for two weeks from September 3 to September 17, 2021 in the first instance. Your urgent action in this regard is required.”
Confirming the authenticity of the letter, a top security source told Punch that the letter was in line with the usual security strategy.
The source said Zamfara State had become a huge source of worry to the Federal Government and the military was planning a massive offensive in the coming days.
“Zamfara State has been a huge source of worry to the government. And whenever a military offensive is being planned, bandits always get tipped off. So, the strategy is to block phone access for now so that criminals would not be able to communicate with one another.”
Saturday PUNCH reports that in 2013, the Federal Government blocked GSM networks in Borno State for several months in a bid to curb the activities of Boko Haram.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had on March 3, 2021 declared Zamfara a no fly zone due to the crisis which is believed to be fuelled by illegal gold mining.
It was, however, learnt that despite the no fly order, over 500 persons have been killed in Zamfara while hundreds including schoolchildren have been kidnapped within the same period.
In July, a military airplane was shot down by bandits