Nigeria’s foremost Civil Society group, The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria-HURIWA has decried what it described as the Federal government’s deliberately hasty, panic move’ to shutdown telecommunications network in some Northwestern states of the country.
In a statement signed by it’s national coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, the Civil Rights crusader said it is unfair and unpatriotic for the Federal government to continue to approve telecommunications network shutdown for states in the troubled North-West region when it is obvious that the shutdown has so far not affected the terrorists and their nefarious activities but only further compound the suffering on Nigerians and make operations more difficult for our troops executing the war against terrorist elements in the region.
The group said the minister of Telecommunications and digital economy Sheikh Ibrahim Pantami has by this grossly incompetent measure demonstrated that he is unaware of what the right steps are to contain the rising terrorists attacks in the North West affecting mostly Christians and Hausa people just as the dominant members if the terror groups unleashing the unprecedented violence are Fulani herdsmen sharing same Ethno-religious affiliation with the controversial minister who had been caught expressing solidarity with Al-Qaeda terrorists. The Rights group thinks what is going on in the North West is a genocide of Northern Christians and Indigenous native Hausas.
HURIWA made references to a dailytrust publication of Tuesday September 14th which quoted a military source attributing the attack on a forward Operation base of troops fighting terrorists in the North-West to lack of communication between troops due to the network jam in the region. A dozen troops were eventually killed by the terrorists during the attack.
“While the jamming of GSM in Zamfara has gone a long way in taming the bandits, it also has a negative effect on troops because communication among them was also extremely restricted,” the source said.
“Most of the foot soldiers relied on normal phone networks instead of any of the specialised communication gadgets that should be deployed during operations such as the one going on in the North West.
“Only the top commanders have military radio or walkie-talkie, meaning those in the frontlines would only use their personal mobile phones which are no longer accessible.
“The bandits took advantage of this and attacked them at their forward operation base. As you can see, the attack was launched on Saturday but it only came to the fore days after,” he said. Another source said there was the need to deploy specialised communication gadgets for the troops.
“The ban on communication in Zamfara and parts of Katsina is not bad in its entirety but the military high command should have taken note of the adverse effect on troops.”
In the same publication, Dailytrust also reported how the terrorists operating in the North-West states now use thuraya satellite phones to bypass the ban on telecommunications network in the region.
HURIWA also decried the increase in frequency of attacks and killings of innocent Nigerians in the North-West since the so called telecommunication network jam came to effect, questioning it’s sincerity of purpose.
From various news paper publications, online and offline, over 300 Nigerians have been killed by terrorists across the Northwest since the telecommunications shut down began, hundreds have been abducted in the same vein.
This is an indication that the network shutdown has failed to achieve it’s purpose and therefore should be reviewed.