By Adedapo Adesanya
Telecommunications stakeholders were met with shock as the Federal Government of Nigeria has directed all telecommunications providers to shut down services in Zamfara State.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in a letter dated September 3, 2021, said that the directive became imperative following the rising insecurity in the state.
The letter on telecommunications services shut down titled Re: Shutdown of All Telecom Sites in Zamfara State and was signed by Mr Umar Danbatta, executive vice-chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NCC, was addressed to the Chief Executive Officers of the telecoms companies.
This is raising worries as to what is to come as the federal government had earlier declared Zamfara a ‘no-fly zone’, barring airlines from flying in and out of the state.
The decision, NCC said, is “to enable relevant security agencies to carry out required activities towards addressing the security challenges in the state.”
“The pervading security situation in Zamfara State has necessitated an immediate shut down of all telecom services in the state from today, September 3, 2021,” the letter read in part.
In line with this requirement, NCC directed the operators “to shut down all sites in Zamfara State and any site(s) in neighbouring states that could provide telecommunications service in Zamfara State.
The site shutdown is for two weeks (September 03-17, 2021) in the first instance. Your urgent action in this regard is required,” the letter read.
While the directive was specific about Zamfara State, the reference to any other facilities in any site(s) in neighbouring states that could provide telecommunications service in Zamfara State means that other states sharing boundaries with the state would be affected by the shutdown.
Zamfara, a state in northwest Nigeria, shares boundaries with Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kaduna, and Katsina State, where President Muhammadu Buhari hails from.
To achieve a total shutdown of service, the operators would also have to shut some of their sites in the neighbouring states as directed by the regulator.
IGP Authorises Stop & Search, Raids, Others to Tackle Crime
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr Usman Alkali Baba, has ordered the deployment of adequate security around schools, hospitals, and critical national infrastructures across the country.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Mr Olumuyiwa Adejobi, who disclosed this in a statement on Sunday, said the IGP has also ordered regular patrols, stop and search, raids and show of force by tactical commanders to clamp down on pockets of crime and criminality in some states of the federation.
“The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, has ordered the deployment of water-tight security arrangements to cover all schools, hospitals, health workers, and critical national infrastructures around the country,” the statement added.
“The IGP has equally ordered regular patrols, stop and search, raids, and show of force by tactical commanders to clamp down on pockets of crime and criminality recorded in some states of the federation,” it further said.
Mr Baba gave the directive while reviewing the reports he received from various commands and formations on the general security situations across the country.
He tasked strategic police managers at various levels to prioritize the use of intelligence gathering networks while charging officers and men of the force to take the fight against crime to the doorsteps of suspected criminal elements with a view to flushing them from their hideouts.
The IGP also called for the cooperation of members of the public, warning police officers to be civil, professional, and humane in the course of discharging their duties.
SERAP Begs INEC to Allow 7 million Nigerians Complete Voter Registration
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to allow seven million Nigerians to complete their voter registration.
SERAP made the call in a statement on Sunday through its Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, warning that the failure of the electoral body to grant this request could attract legal action.
According to the rights group, INEC recently disclosed that out of 10,487,972 Nigerians who carried out their pre-registration online, only 3,444,378 completed the process at physical centres.
SERAP believes that the right to vote is also the right to be given the time and opportunity to complete the registration process so that it can be effectively exercised.
“The right to vote is not merely the right to cast a ballot but also the right to be given the time and opportunity to complete the registration process, so that the right can be meaningfully and effectively exercised,” the statement read.
“Closing the gates on eligible Nigerians and denying them the time and opportunity to complete their registration cannot preserve trust in the electoral process.
“Denying a significant number of eligible voters the time and opportunity to complete the registration for their PVCs would impair the right to vote of those affected, deny them a voice in the 2023 elections, and lead to disparate and unfair treatment of these voters,” it submitted.
The organisation noted that, “According to a report released by INEC, out of 10,487,972 Nigerians who carried out their pre-registration online, only 3,444,378 Nigerians representing 32.8 per cent, completed the process at a physical centre. 7,043,594 Nigerians carried out their pre-registration but are yet to complete the process at a physical centre.
“This represents over 67 per cent of those who began their registration process online.
“According to INEC, a total of 12,298,944 Nigerians completed their voter registration; 8,854,566 of which were persons who did their registration entirely at a physical centre.
“The over seven million Nigerians have already completed their registration online, that is, via INEC online portal by providing their biodata and required documents.”
FG Threatens CCECC Over Drawback in Rail Contract
By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government has threatened to sanction the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) for not meeting up with the agreement of providing 85 per cent of rail project costs in a move that could signify friction.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Transportation, Mr Mu’azu Sambo, at the inspection of the Lekki Deep Seaport on Saturday in Lagos.
According to Mr Sambo, the projects are the Kano-Kaduna and the Maiduguri-Port Harcourt rail lines.
“The CCECC has not brought anything to the table. I gave them a deadline which is October 30, if I don’t get that money on the ground, I know what to advise Mr President to do,” he said.
He expressed satisfaction with the Lekki Deep Seaport project, noting that the initiatives were to ensure the smooth evacuation of cargo at the port.
He said that for part-time, the road was being expanded, adding that the government was looking into it, and for medium-term, barges would take care of it.
“I am impressed and happy to be back here. This we know is the pride of all Nigerians, the first deep seaport in West Africa that will take the largest ship in the world has 16.5 meters deep, and will give us hundreds and thousands of jobs.
“Almost automated not fully but automated enough to make life easy for port operations.
“It is initiatives like this we want to encourage, that is why I did not hesitate when I came to the ministry and I saw a proposal of the Badagry Deep Seaport sitting on my table and took it immediately for approval.
“Also, the president is concerned about cargo evacuation at the port and does not want a repeat of the Apapa and TinCan port and so we cannot rely on the road alone which is not the best option.
“There is a need to sit down with stakeholders to see how to tackle this,” he said.
He pointed out that cargo evacuation was not just within the port but outside the port, as goods must reach the final destination.
“First of all, you save a lot of time at the port because of automation and modern technology and equipment.
“After the port what happens, it only makes sense when the goods get to the shipper or owner. And to do that, you need to move either by rail, water, or road,” he said.
Mr Sambo urged the management of the port to employ as many Nigerians as possible as this was the only way citizens could put food on the table for their families.
On his part, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr Mohammed Bello-Koko, noted that the Lekki Deep Seaport was one of the first solutions to reducing traffic at Apapa and TinCan.
According to Mr Bello-Koko, the automation deployed at the port is commendable and fantastic as the processes will be free of human interference.
He said that the Apapa and TinCan port would still be viable, adding that what they had done was to create alternatives for importers and exporters as to where they would decide to do business.
“The operators of those ports should also up their game, and improve their speed in terms of cargo clearance or otherwise.
“Feasibility studies have shown that these ports will still be viable in future like 10, 15 years, the government can decide to turn some of these ports into a real estate, we have some of them in Europe,” Mr Bello-Koko said.
Mr Du Ruogang, the Managing Director, Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Ltd. (Lekki Port), said that the port was 95 per cent completed, adding that they would meet the targeted time.
Mr Ruogang appreciated the NPA for deploying marine services such as tug, pilot, lines, boats and harbour master before the operations of the port.
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