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Kaduna: Residents Narrate Ordeal Faced During Shutdown Of Telecommunications

The Governor of Kaduna, Nasir El-Rufai, on the 27th of November 2021 announced the restoration of telecommunication services across the state.

It will be recalled that on the 30th of October this year, the Kaduna state government shut down telecommunications, as part of actions embarked upon by the state to fight insecurity.

Security agencies had earlier requested the shutdown in October 2021, among other measures they argued would assist ongoing operations against armed bandits and other criminals.

The government however maintains its stand on the ban of okadas on weekly markets, transportation of cattle, and the prohibition of the sale of fuel in jerry cans in specified local government areas.

This report looks at what happened before and during the telecommunication shutdown, and how it has affected residents.

Kasua (Central market), Kaduna || Campus Reporter/Damilola Olufemi

Curbing Insecurity Demands Shutdown Of Telecommunication

Before the restoration of the ban on the 27th of November, telecommunication activities in most parts of the state were paralysed, while the few who had access to telecommunication services could barely make use of it.

Some of the local government areas majorly affected by the shutdown included Giwa, Kajuru, Birnin Gwari, Chikun, Igabi, Kachia, Kagarko.

Primary and secondary schools across the state were closed in June due to insecurity and in September, the state government cancelled the third term and announced the resumption of a new term which will run till the 17th of December of this year.

Unfortunately, despite these measures,  insecurity has taken a new dimension in the state.

Some Cases Of Insecurity Recorded Before Shutdown The Of Telecommunications

Before the shutdown of telecommunications in September, Premium Times reported at least nine persons were killed and one injured by bandits who attacked Unguwan Dooh (Mado) village of Zangon Kataf LGA of Kaduna State on the 22nd of August 2021.

Two days after (on the 24th of August), suspected bandits ambushed the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna, where two officers were killed and one senior officer was kidnapped. Apart from the officers executed and those abducted, some other officers sustained injuries from the gunshot.

On Thursday the 21st of October, a nine-coach standard gauge train heading to Abuja from Kaduna, survived a bomb blast around 8 am.

Insecurity Cases Recorded During The Shutdown Of Telecommunications In Kaduna

Below are some cases of insecurity recorded in Kaduna during the shutdown of telecommunications.

On the 31st of October, in a statement disclosed by the Chairman of the Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Joseph Hayab, two out of the 66 members of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Kakau Daji, in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna state, who were abducted in church on Sunday, were killed by their abductors. Chikun is one of the areas insecurity affects most in the state.

In a similar case, a retired Airforce Officer, Air Vice Marshal Muhammed Maisaka was killed by gunmen assumed to be bandits in the Rigasa area of Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna state.

The retired air force officer was killed along with his grandson in the early hours of Tuesday, 9th of November. Until his death, late Air Vice Marshal Muhammed Maisaka was the Chief Medical Director of MSK Hospital in Rigasa.

Recently, bandits attacked the popular Kaduna-Abuja express road on Sunday, 21st and on Monday, 22nd of November. The armed criminals blocked the Abuja-Kaduna and kidnapped travellers. A former governorship aspirant of Zamfara state, Sagir Hamidu was killed during the attack.

The Effects of the Shutdown on Residents

Since the shutdown of telecom networks in the entire state, there have been reactions, opinions and impressions from residents.

The economic activities of the state were mostly paralysed, as the city emptied out. This reporter went around the state and held interviews with inhabitants who expressed their thoughts on the situation, how it has affected them and the insecurity challenges they contend with.

Adamu Usman, a trader in Kaduna New City Plaza found it difficult to reach his family and loved ones in other parts of the state. While decrying this, he implored the government to provide an alternative next time, rather than this step.

He said: “When the network was shut down, I could not reach my family members and know how they are fairing. I could only speak to them once in a while and that is when the network waves to a good side of the receiver (his family). It was hard on us then. I urge the government of El-Rufai to look for an alternative to tackle this insecurity rather than denying us access to reach our loved ones.”

New City Plaza, Kaduna || Campus Reporter/Damilola Olufemi

Another resident who is a motorcycle rider named Hassan also reacted to the shutdown of telecoms in the state and the ban of okada. He said life has not been good since he could not ride his okada.

“I have been finding it hard to live. This okada is the only source of living I rely on and now the government has banned us from working. I don’t have any other way than to serve as one of those who offload goods from trailers or I beg for assistance from people in a little way they can. I can’t even feed myself. How then do I think of someone else who I owe responsibilities?” 

Men unloading goods from the truck

During the reporter’s visit to Chikun local government area, one of the communities strongly affected by the network shutdown, some of the residents expressed displeasure over the shutdown.

Lukman Jamiu said: “Although the Governor intends to curb insecurity through the shutdown of telecoms, it dragged my business backwards. The sale of recharge cards has reduced because people could not have network on their mobile phones as before neither do they had access to call, except those who could find their way to ATM stands to recharge their lines with airtime.”

A student of Government Secondary School (GSS), Sabon Tasha in Chikun local government, who preferred to be anonymous said she was unable to carry out some online assignments that will aid her studies and also get her useful information.

“The shutdown of telecom affected my studies. I did not find it easy carrying out assignments using the internet. I could not have access to information as well. It affected my academics but now that it has been restored, I could get the information I need to aid my studies.”

With the restoration of telecommunications in the state, some of the residents have been able to reach their families but the question on the lips of many residents in the state is, are there standard measures put in place by the government and military to improve security in the state?

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