By Favour Goodness
Nigeria telecoms sector regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has given security reasons as the basis for the directive for all telecoms operators in Zamfara state to shut down their services.
According to the commission, the measures is to tackle the growing incidences of banditry, kidnapping and the general state of fear within the state.
The shutdown order is to be enforced for two weeks in the first instance, after which it will be reviewed whether to continue or relax the procedure across the state.
The order takes effect from Friday, September 3.
In a letter addressed to Chief Executives of telecoms operators titled: “Re: Shutdown of All Telecom Sites in Zamfara”, the Commission noted that the directive was due to prevailing security challenges in the state.
The letter was signed by the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta.
“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.
“In line with this requirement, you are hereby directed 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 reads in part.
While the directive was specific about Zamfara State, the reference to any other facilities in any site(s) in neighbouring states that could provide telecommunications service in Zamfara State, means that other states sharing boundaries with the state would be affected by the shutdown.
Zamfara shares boundaries with Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kaduna, and the Katsina States. To achieve a total shutdown of service, the operators would also have to shut some of their sites in the neighbouring states as directed by the regulator.
It will be recalled that the Federal Government had six months earlier on March 3, 2021, declared Zamfara a no-go fly zone in order to frustrate the activities of the criminals but it is yet to be seen how effective it has been in curbing the menace.
As of Saturday, there are indications that over 240 base stations have been shut down in the state in compliance with the NCC directive.
This will definitely translate to a hard time for law-abiding citizens as well as businesses whose operations will be significantly slowed down if not entirely disrupted by the phone blackout.
However, this is seen by most watchers as a necessary sacrifice to rid the state of criminals and their nefarious activities.
As the order takes effect, a business venture who thrives on the use of telecommunication including POS, internet cafes, business centres among others, are already counting their loss as many are thrown out of business already.