The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has authorized all telecommunications providers to shut down services in Zamfara State from September 3.
The shut down comes in response to the soaring outbreak of insecurity in Zamfara state and neighboring cities.
This came as the last action that may entirely close down every economic activity in the Zamfara as the State Governor, Bello Matawalle had last week declared the closure of all weekly markets in the state as part of efforts to tackle the deteriorating security situation.
A letter addressed to the Chief Executive Officers of the telecoms companies read that the decision is “to enable relevant security agencies to carry out required activities towards addressing the security challenges in the state.”
Signed by the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, the letter was titled “Re: Shutdown of All Telecom Sites in Zamfara State”
“The pervading security situation in Zamfara State has necessitated an immediate shut down of all telecom services in the state from today, September 3, 2021,” the letter partly read.
The NCC in compliance directed the operators “to shut down all sites in Zamfara State and any site(s) in neighbouring states 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,” the letter stated.
While the directive was precise about Zamfara State, the reference to any other facilities in any site(s) in neighbouring states that could provide telecommunications service in Zamfara State, implies that other states sharing boundaries with the state would be involved by the shutdown.
Industry experts observed that, a service signal from a cell tower could reach up to 45 miles away, depending on the technology of the cellphone network.
Zamfara state shares boundaries with Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kaduna, and Katsina State. To obtain a full shutdown of service, the operators would also have to shut some of their sites in the neighbouring states as directed by the regulator.
Furthermore, a letter dated August 3 wasq written to the NCC from the office of Zamfara State Governor, demanding for the shut down of telecoms service in the state.
The letter partly reads: “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. 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.” The letter stated.