Governor El-Rufai Makes U-Turn, Moves to Shutdown Telecommunications Services
By Mayokun Adekoya
Eight days after Sokoto State government shut down telecommunications networks in 14 of the 23 local government areas of the state as part of the efforts to check banditry, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-rufai, has also announced that he is set to shut down telecommunications services in Kaduna state over insecurity and has asked residents to prepare.
Special Adviser to El-Rufai on Media and Communication, Muyiwa Adekeye in a statement issued on September 7 had earlier denied that the state government has no plan to shut down telecommunication services in the state.
However, El-Rufai, in an interview with radio journalists on Tuesday has reversed his decision, and revealed that the shutdown was part of an offensive against bandits taking refuge and causing havoc in some parts of the state.
He said the move would not affect the entire state, adding that only LGA’s sharing borders with the troubled Zamfara and Katsina states where military onslaught is ongoing will be affected.
“We have been advised by the Military and other security agencies to shut down telecommunication services in certain LGAs but we are waiting for the security agencies to tell us which specific areas and when.
“But I want the people of Kaduna State to know that if they give us the go-ahead tomorrow [Wednesday], we will shut down tomorrow.”
The Kaduna State Governor, who spoke in Hausa language, said the shutdown of telecommunication services in Zamfara and Katsina states made some bandits cross over to neighbouring local government areas in Kaduna to call and ask for ransoms.
“There is no doubt that bandits and other criminals rely on telecommunication to communicate with their informants as well as with relatives of kidnapped victims so as to demand ransom,” he said.
El-Rufai also revealed that the directive had been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“I will not mention the LGAs to be affected but the local governments that are constantly being tormented by bandits know themselves,” he said adding that, “As soon as we get the nod from security agents, then the people of Kaduna State should know that we will shutdown telecommunication to give security agents the maximum cooperation to carry out operations in those areas.”
He also said the state government had established a task force that will go round the hinterlands to monitor compliance on some of the security measures adopted by the state to ensure that fuel stations and markets are closed to further strangulate bandits in the forest.
While advising the people of the state on the need to identify and report informants or accomplices of bandits, the Governor said: “Anyone who comes to buy between 20 to 100 loaves of bread, sell it to him but also notify security agents.
“Or when someone comes with about 20 phones and wants to charge them, let them charge them, but also notify security agents.”