Nigeria shuts down telecom services at fight on terror intensifies

Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps

Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps to join the army in special operation against bandits in North West.

Photo credit: Mohammed Momoh |Nation Media Group


The rise in banditry and kidnapping in six North West states has forced Nigeria to shut down telecommunication services. This is to enable the military and other security agencies to fight terrorism.

The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) on Friday directed all telecommunication companies, including Globacom, MTN, Airtel, and Ntel to shut down their services with immediate effect for two weeks.

The shutdown, which will run from September 3 to September 17, 2021, may be extended depending on the level of success of the military operation.

The increase in attacks and kidnappings has reached a worrying proportion that the states in the North West have resorted to use extra efforts to stop the menace. The abductions of innocent citizens, children and students have become rampant.

In addition to the abduction of 73 students on Thursday, over 1,860 students are still being held by bandits in Zamfara and five other North West states.

Increase in prices

Bandits have also resorted to destroying farmlands, cattle rustling and burning down villages. The situation has led to food shortage and increase in prices.

The directive to the telecommunication firms was signed by the NCC Chief Executive Officer Prof. Umar Dambatta, on Friday.

“Insecurity in Zamfara has necessitated the shutdown of all telecommunication services to enable relevant security agencies to address the security challenges in the state.’’

He directed the shutdown of all sites in the neighbouring states that could provide telecommunication service in Zamfara, the epicentre of banditry and kidnapping.

Apart from the shutdown of telecom sites, the governments of Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto states have suspended weekly markets, movement of cattle, sale of petrol in jerry-cans as well as motorcycle transport.

The measures have been seen to cause more hardships, especially in the movement of foodstuffs.

Residents unhappy

In Katsina, the home State of President Muhammadu Buhari, where borders with Niger had been shut, residents are unhappy with the negative effects of suspending economic activities.

Mr Ibrahim Faskari, a resident of Faskari Local Government in Katsina state, said: “One of the measures that have serious negative effects on our people is the closure of cattle markets because in most cases, cattle rustlers are not the ones that bring cattle to the markets.’’

Residents in Zamfara said that the rural economy has been affected because dwellers depended on their markets for trading. 

“The ban on the sale of fuel in jerry-cans is also affecting the movement of people. The majority of the people that are affected by the ban are those riding motorbikes in the rural communities,’’ Mr Ahmed Musa, a commercial motorcycle rider said.

Embattled Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara, on Friday cautioned journalists against relaying unverified information on the security situation. He said that this could fuel the already tense situation in the state.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has warned that over 85 per cent of schools are unsafe and vulnerable to bandit attacks.

The NSCDC said the Commandant-General Ahmed Audi had initiated a safe Schools’ project and established the female squad of the corps to ensure safety in schools.