The Crisis Room

Insecurity: Telecoms Shutdown Impact In Zamfara

October 05, 2021 HumAngle Season 1 Episode 8
The Crisis Room
Insecurity: Telecoms Shutdown Impact In Zamfara
Show Notes Transcript

Zamfara state, Northwest Nigeria, has had a telecommunications blackout to crack down on terrorists. But this is having adverse effects on residents.

Hosted by Maryam Mustapha and Murtala Abdullahi

Additional voice: Aliyu Dahiru Aliyu

Reporter: Murtala Abdullahi and Aliyu Dahiru Aliyu

Production Team: Abba Toko, Anita Eboigbe, and Osato Edokpayi. 

The Executive Producer is Ahmad Salkida.

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Insecurity: Telecoms Shutdown Impact In Zamfara

Saudat Sulaiman has been experiencing bouts of anxiety. 

Her brother was sent to NYSC camp in Tsafe Local Government Area and she has been unable to reach him. 

The state government shut down telecommunications networks as part of fresh security measures. But this move is causing more panic. 

Saudat does not know if her brother is safe or not. 

The network blackout is not helping matters. 


Zamfara State has been one of the worst hit in terms of insecurity in Nigeria.

Due to the insecurity, the Nigerian government directed one of its regulatory agencies, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to instruct all telecommunications service providers to shut down telephone services.


Mariam Mustapha:  Welcome to another episode of The Crisis Room Podcast. I am Mariam Mustapha. With me is my colleague Murtala Abdullahi. 

Each week, we look at security issues across Nigeria and answer the tough questions around them.

Murtala Abdullahi: This week, we will be looking at terrorism in Zamfara and the government response of shutting down mobile communication to curb the situation.

Mariam Mustapha:  For over a decade,  Zamfara state has been on record to harbor colonies of banditry activities...

… it is now a state where people live in perpetual fear.


Over the years, the state has been  disturbed with insecurity issues such as cattle rustling, kidnapping, and numerous attacks on communities. 

A lot of people have been killed and millions have fled their ancestral homes for safety.

Murtala Abdullahi: Despite being one of Nigeria’s poorest states, the governor of Zamfara state has closed down several markets, adding a food insecurity angle to the mix. 

According to the government, the idea of shutting down communications is to prevent terrorists from collaborating with others.

Nobody in the state can make calls or receive text messages.

Maryam Mustapha: The decision to restrict has come at a great cost to residents of the state. 

Over two million subscribers have been cut off from mobile communication, which also serves as a daily source of income for others. 

This is a dilemma. 

The government claims the move is a welcome tactic considering the security crisis in the state .

Recall that even children are not left out from the insecurity menace. Several young children have been kidnapped and schools have been closed, which is impacting the negativity a new education lapse dimension. 

Murtala Abdullahi: Early in 2021, the governor gave two months ultimatum to terrorists to lay down their arms and embrace peace or face military onslaught.

Yet, the situation has deteriorated to the extent that basic rights in Zamfara have been taken away.

With us, today is Aliyu Dahiru, a reporter with HumAngle who has covered reports on terrorists and policies made to tackle terrorism in Northwest Nigeria.


Aliyu, so far, do you think these policies taken by the government of Zamfara State can help crackdown terrorism?


Aliyu Dahiru:  Yes, to a degree. But, in my opinion, both the federal and state governments are largely relying on trial and error approaches to deal with the situation. 

Some of the policies promised terrorists amnesty, but the government later repealed them after they proved ineffective in combating the problem. 

Infiltration of Jihadists into the Northwest is currently the region's most serious problem. 


While many people see it as merely banditry, it is gradually evolving into an ideological conflict that is extremely difficult to control, as evidenced by the Boko Haram conflict, which has defied all attempts to solve it for over a decade. 


It appears that the network shutdown did not work as planned. Terrorists retaliate by attacking villages and towns in areas where they are not confronted.

They raided a community in Sabon Birni, a Sokoto village near the Zamfara axis, recently. Despite the policy, they recently attacked a military barracks, killing a number of officers. 

Yes, as I previously stated, the measure taken was effective in some circumstances, but it was not effective in all circumstances.

Murtala Abdullahi: Thank you Aliyu.

The government should have it in mind that it's important for these measures to produce tangible results in order to improve the security and humanitarian conditions.

Mariam Mustapha: This is an episode of HumAngle Crisis Room.

Thank you for listening. I am Mariam Mustapha. Join in next week for another episode.

Members of our production team are Abba Toko, Anita Eboigbe, Tony Asemota.

The executive producer is Ahmad Salkida.