Base stations have been shut down by GSM operators in Zamfara following the recent directive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) that all telecom sites in the state should be suspended over rising insecurity.
SaharaReporters had on Friday reported how Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Communications Commission in a letter to all telecom operators said the action was one of the strategies taken by security operatives in curbing banditry ravaging the state.
In the memo signed by the NCC and directed at the telecos, the suspension of services would last between September 3 through September 17 in the first instance.
The commission had also said the directive was to enable relevant security agencies to carry out required activities towards addressing the security challenge in the state.
The memo partly read, “The pervading security situation in Zamfara State has necessitated an immediate shutting down of all telecommunications service in the state from today September 03, 2021.
“This is to enable relevant security agencies to carry out required activities towards addressing the security challenge in the state, in line with the requirement, Globacom is hereby directed to shut down all sites in Zamfara State and any site(s) in neighbouring state that could provide telecommunications service in Zamfara State.
“The site shutdown is for two weeks (September 03 - 17, 2021) in the first instance. Your urgent action in this regard is required,” a copy of the letter sent to Globacom Nigeria reads.
Checks by SaharaReporters showed the directive had been followed by telecom operators as all the sources in state could not be reached on the phone.
A source in the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) confirmed to Punch that all the telcos had complied with the directive.
The source said the operators had no choice but to implement the directive of the NCC, being the regulatory authority for the telecommunications industry.
The source said, “It is the NCC that sent the letter and it is for all of the operators. When the government gives directives or when the regulator gives a directive what do you expect the telcos to do?
“Looking at what it means for the residents, we have to ask ourselves why the telecom infrastructure was shut down in the first place. That is the question the citizens should be asking. It is for their benefit. I cannot comment on how the shutting down order works, because as we are speaking, they are listening to us.”
The development, it was gathered, means residents of Zamfara might be unable to make calls, send text messages or even browse the internet.
“If all the providers shut down their base stations, it means there won’t be any communication in the state again. The base stations speak to one another; they are connected. It is one base station contacting the next one when you make a call and that is why it is mobile. So, if you shut down base stations in a state, that means there would be no communication. They won’t be able to call, send text messages or browse the internet," a source said.
“Although if there is a base station in a border town, and that base station is shut down, it will affect that particular area in the two states, but it is just that area. It won’t affect other states, because their own base stations are active.”
Reacting to the directive, a security management and intelligence specialist, Kabiru Adamu, said the move might not yield the desired result.
He said: “We have seen other places where this was tried and it failed. One of the reasons is that some of these locations are border communities, thus it is easy to use lines that are from neighbouring countries. I doubt if the government has reached out to its counterparts in these countries to also ban the usage of their lines in the state and adjourning communities.
“Second, there are satellite phones; these bandits have money. They can resort to using one. Also, there are digital radios that can go as far as 100km and even more. There are options for them to deploy that to enable them to still communicate. The efficacy of this policy is in doubt.”