Insecurity: NCC Shuts Telecoms Services in Zamfara

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With the need to protect consumers and critical telecoms infrastructure across the North-West region of the country, as the battle against bandits intensifies, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has shut down telecommunications services in Zamfara and some adjoining states. This directive which followed an order from the federal government, will last for two weeks, from September 3, 2021.

A letter to this effect, written and signed by Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of NCC, titled, “Re: Shutdown of All Telecom Sites in Zamfara State”, was delivered to the Chief Executive Officers of all concerned telecoms companies.
The NCC EVC/ CEO wrote: “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.”

The Commission stated: “In line with this requirement, Globacom 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.”

Recently, Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State announced the closure of all weekly markets in the state as part of practical measures to address the worsening security situation in the enclave
Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State explained that the closure of the markets in the state was part of practical measures to address the worsening security situation in the enclave.


Whereas the directive is specifically for Zamfara State, the reference to any other facilities in any site(s) in neighbouring states that could provide telecommunications services in Zamfara State, means that other states sharing boundaries with the state would be affected by the shutdown.
In this regard, Communication experts have explained this to mean that a service signal from a cell tower could reach up to 45 miles away, depending on the technology of the cellphone network, according to report

 Zamfara shares boundaries with Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kaduna, and Katsina State, President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state.
To achieve a total shutdown of services in this region of the country, it was said that the operators would also have to shut some of their sites in the neighbouring states as directed by the regulator.

Reports have cited Governor Matawalle’s earlier letter to NCC, dated August 3, requesting the shutdown of telecoms service in the state.

The Zamfara State Governor stated: “Following the escalation of insecurity in the state, the Zamfara State Security Council resolved that extra measures for public safety and strengthening the battle against banditry in the state should be taken.
Accordingly, a task force was set up to ensure that the new measures are enforced.”

Matawalle also wrote: “The Council noted that one of the greatest hurdles to combating banditry is the issue of informers, who use mobile networks to communicate with bandits about the movements of troops.

“The bandits also take advantage of the availability of the networks to coordinate their attacks.”
Meanwhile, security sources have disclosed that Zamfara State is fast becoming a huge source of worry’ to the Federal Government of Nigeria, and the military was planning a massive offensive in the coming days.

The source was quoted to have said, that “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.”

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