Nigeria’s telecoms regulator has ordered operators to shut down mobile phone networks in Zamfara State for security reasons, just days after other restrictions were imposed in the violence-plagued region.
Gangs of criminals known locally as bandits snatched 73 children from a local school on Wednesday in the latest mass kidnapping in the country’s northwest.
On Friday, the Nigerian Communications Commission said “the pervading security situation in Zamfara state, has necessitated an immediate shutdown of all telecommunications services… for two weeks.”
“This is to enable relevant security agencies (to) carry out required activities towards addressing the security challenge in the state,” the regulator wrote in a letter addressed to a telecom operator and seen by AFP.
An official who asked to remain anonymous said on Saturday that the document was authentic.
The NCC did not respond to a request for comment.
Another letter was seen by AFP from the governor’s office to Nigeria’s ministry of the communication dated Friday stated that Zamfara requested a “temporary shutdown of mobile networks”.
“One of the biggest hurdles to combating banditry is the issue of informers who use mobile networks to communicate with bandits about the movement of troops,” it said.
“The bandits also take advantage of the availability of the networks to coordinate their attacks.”
Four local officials could not be contacted on their mobile phones.