The Nigerian Federal Government (FG) has instructed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to issue a directive to all mobile network operators in the northern state of Zamfara, to shut down mobile services for two weeks.

The shutdown has cut off 1.2 million subscribers in the province. Evidence from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that Zamfara has 2 177 431 active subscribers from 2 337 893 connected lines. With a further 1.59 million internet users in the province, citizens will experience a complete blackout for the next two weeks.

The internet shutdown comes as a security tactic to fight off bandits that have run amok in the northwest of the country. On 1 September, 73 children were kidnapped from a local school, this happened after 53 citizens were shot and killed by armed bandits in June 2021.

Bandits take advantage of the availability of networks to coordinate attacks. Informers use mobile services to monitor, communicate and alert each other on the movement of military troops.

In a letter titled โ€œRe: Shutdown of All Telecom Sites in Zamfara Stateโ€ signed by the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, โ€œFollowing 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 enforcedโ€.

A decade-old tussle with Islamist insurgencies in the countries north has killed over 30 000 citizens, and displaced 2 million civilians, creating the biggest humanitarian crisis on the continent.

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