Communication signals for mobile phone users in Zamfara State went dead on Monday amid reports that authorities had ordered a blackout of telecommunication services in the state.
It is gathered that this is to ensure effective tackling of armed gangs of kidnappers terrorising the area.
According to Reuters News, two residents of Zamfara, reached by phone after they travelled to neighbouring Sokoto State, said their mobile networks had stopped functioning over the weekend.
A letter purportedly from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to network provider Globacom instructing it to shut down services in Zamfara from 3rd September has been circulating on social media but telecom companies and the NCC have been silent on such an order.
The purported letter said the telecoms blackout was being ordered: “to enable relevant security agencies (to) carry out required activities towards addressing the security challenge in the state.”
“We are clearing these elements fiercely and decisively. It’s a total operation,” a Nigeria Air Force officer is reported as saying.
Because of a recent wave of mass abductions of pupils from schools in Zamfara by armed gangs, schools in the state have been forced to shut down.
In the latest reported incident, more than 70 pupils were kidnapped from a secondary school in the village of Kaya last week.
A Zamfara resident, a lecturer, Abubakar Abdullahi Alhasan, is reported as saying that he had heard that a military crackdown had been going on since the mobile networks had stopped working.
“The Nigerian air force and army were succeeding in dislodging some of the bandits’ camps. They killed many and recovered arms and ammunition while many others were arrested,” he said. (with Reuters reports)