Police in Nigeria to offer 24-hour phone mast surveillance after bombings

Nigeria’s police chief Mohammed Abubakar has ordered a 24-hour surveillance of all telecommunications masts following a series of demolitions across the northern parts of the country.

Nigeria’s militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, admitted to the attacks.

In a statement, Abubakar confirmed the region’s police force had been directed to set up special units to guard the masts.

“This order is sequel to recent security development in some parts of the country where these equipment and installations have become vulnerable and targets of reckless attacks and willful destruction,” he said.

A survey across northern Nigeria discovered at least 31 attacks in six states spreading from the central state of Kano to the far eastern state of Borno.

In Borno state’s capital Maiduguri, of where Boko Haram began, at least 13 masts were destroyed. The burned wreckages of MTN offices were also evident, local journalists said.

Boko Haram, which has caused mayhem in Africa’s most populous city through a wave of bombings since 2009, is fighting to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state.

According to a BBC report, the group had threatened such attacks blaming the firms for helping security agencies to monitor its members.

The telecom operators are particularly concerned about the economic impact the vandalisms would have in the areas facing network disruptions. Experts say the vandalisms could run into millions of dollars; the cost of single mast can exceed US$1 million.

Representatives from the telecom operators who met yesterday in Lagos welcomed the move by the police saying it would ensure the region’s mobile users experience uninterrupted services.

In a statement released Thursday, MTN said the attacks had “been made on some of its installations in northern Nigeria by unknown persons” and its customers might experience network interruptions.

“With that guarantee, we will continue to provide services so we do not intend to discontinue services,

“In the places bombed, people do not have services on their telephones and the few areas where they have fringes of signal there are cases of congestion because of overload on those few sites,” Gbenga Adebayo, chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecom Companies of Nigeria, told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme.

With an estimated 160 million people, Nigeria is one of Africa’s biggest and fastest growing telecom markets. Last year’s estimates showed the country had 93 million mobile phone subscribers. Land-lines are virtually non-existent as the state-owned telcos have collapsed.

Nigeria is generally divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian and animist south. Boko Haram wants to destabilise the state and eradicate Christians from Northern Nigeria.

The name translates as “Western education is forbidden” and its goal is to see Nigeria be ruled by traditional Islamic law.

In 2009, Boko Haram started a military campaign for Islamic rule in Nigeria bombing churches in the restive city of Jos, in central Plateau State. The group also attacked government buildings and assassinating moderate Muslim clerics.

Earlier this year, it threatened to attack the country’s telecom companies accusing them of “breaking their ethical obligations” and helping the security forces to monitor and track down its members.

The group is bent on imposing Sharia laws across the country.

Posted in: Uncategorized

Latest headlines

Latest by Category

Tweets about "humanipo"