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06.09.2021 Feature ‘Back to the 90s’ — Citizens Lament Telecom Shutdown in Zamfara

Published 6th Sep, 2021

By Mariam Hamzat

Although Abdulrahman Zubairu lives and studies in Katsina State, he is worried about the telecom shutdown in Zamfara State. Zubairu, a student of the School of Politics, Policy and Governance (SPPG), an online school in Katsina, has friends and relatives he has been unable to reach since the shutdown.

Zubairu told FIJ many of his acquaintances in Zamfara could no longer communicate, learn or transact online.

“Now we have to go back to the ’90s when the only means of communicating with people within the state was letters,” he lamented.

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Zubairu also expressed fears over the rumour making the rounds that the Katsina State Government was about to take a similar action. He revealed he had sent a message to his school that he might not be attending classes any longer.         

Anka Yusuf, a resident of Sokoto, also complained about the development. He told FIJ he had been finding it hard to communicate with his Zamfara-based relatives since the shutdown.

“The last time I communicated with someone in Zamfara, she was not in the state. People who want to make calls follow drivers to Katsina or Kaduna before they can connect,” Yusuf said.

On Friday, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) directed telcos to shut down activities in Zamfara State over rising bandit attacks. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, wrote a memo titled “Re: Shutdown of All Telecom Sites in Zamfara State” to the Chief Executive Officers of the firms.

“The pervading security situation in Zamfara State has necessitated an immediate shutdown of all telecom services in the state from today, September 3, 2021,” the memo read in part.

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However, Monday Ubani, Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL), said that shutting down the state without consulting stakeholders was not right.

“Pronouncements like the one made in Zamfara are not the right way to infringe on rights. The only arm empowered to do things related to that is the legislative, and there are processes to follow,” he told FIJ.

He also said that a lot of citizens whoaere not bandits have been affected negatively by the shutdown, and that businesses and livelihoods have been disrupted because the procedure of ‘evaluation before implementation’ was not followed.

Published 6th Sep, 2021

By Mariam Hamzat

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