The federal government in a renewed effort to fight banditry and other forms of insecurity in the state has shut down all telecom activities in Zamfara state. This is barely six months after declaring Zamfara State a ‘no-fly zone’,
This is following a directive by the Nigerian Communications Commission mandating all telecommunication operators in the country to stop extending services to Zamfara and its environs, effective Friday, September 03, 2021.
The tone of the letter which was signed by the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof Umar Danbatta and addressed to the Chief Executives of all the telecom operators in the country, signifies that neighbouring states to Zamfara like Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kaduna and Katsina among others, may be affected by the telecom black-out, considering that signal to or from a telecom tower in Zamfara could extend services up to 45 miles away.
The latest development comes on the heels of a similar directive by the governor of the State, Bello Matawalle who last week, announced the closure of all weekly markets in the state as part of measures to address the worsening security situation in the state.
Part of the NCC’s letter titled “Re: Shutdown of All Telecom Sites in Zamfara State” reads: “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. This is to enable relevant security agencies to carry out required activities towards addressing the security challenges in the state.
“In line with this requirement, you are hereby directed 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”
As usual, a conservative Public Affairs department of the Commission is yet to confirm that the letter emanates from NCC as both voices call, text messages and WhatsApp messages to the Director Public Affairs, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde were ignored.
Also, the Chairman Association of Licensed Telecom Operators in Nigeria, ALTON, Engr Gbenga Adebayo also refused to either pick his calls or respond to inquiries on the issue, as at the time of filing this report.
However, some of the telecom service providers who spoke to Sunday Vanguard in confidence confirmed receipt of the directive and have complied with it as directed.
Sunday Vanguard gathered authoritatively that the federal government’s latest move could be a prompt response to a letter dated August 3, purportedly written to an agency of federal government by the Zamfara State Governor, asking for the shutdown of telecoms service in the state.
A close source to the agency, dictated Part of Matawale’s letter to read: “Following the escalation of insecurity in the state, the State Security Council resolved that extra measures for public safety and strengthening the battle against banditry in the state should be taken.
“Accordingly, a task force was set up to ensure that the new measures are enforced. The Council noted that one of the greatest hurdles to combating banditry is the issue of informers, who use mobile networks to communicate with bandits about the movements of troops. The bandits also take advantage of the availability of the networks to coordinate their attacks.”
The source said the state felt that the best strategy was to block phone access to the state so that bandits who always get tipped off whenever a military offensive is being planned, would not be able to communicate with their informers.
‘Our administration has strengthened ties among arms of govt’ – Oyetola
…pledges to continue to support Judiciary in Osun to perform its role
… Oyetola’s Administration has been very supportive to our cause – CJ, Adepele Ojo
The Governor of Osun, Adegboyega Oyetola, on Tuesday, said his Administration had strengthened the fundamental ties between the three arms of government as reflected in the peaceful cohesion existing in the State.
He said the Administration has given the other arms of government a pride of place to operate without being internally or externally influenced, saying they occupied a conspicuous place in the ranking of Osun as the most peaceful State in Nigeria.
The Governor pledged to continuously strengthen independence of the judiciary, noting that the right mechanisms had been put in place for that arm of government to perform its role as the hope of the common man.
This is even as the Chief Judge of Osun, Justice Oyebola Adepele Ojo, noted that the Administration of Governor Oyetola holds the judiciary in high esteem as evidenced in his continuous support and commitment to strengthen the administration of justice and guarantee the welfare and well-being of judicial officers.
Governor Oyetola spoke during the Special Religious Services and Inspection of Guard of Honour at the Grand Finale marking the beginning of 2021-2022 Legal Year of Osun State Judiciary, at State High Court, Osogbo.
Oyetola who had earlier identified with the members of the judiciary at the Osogbo Central Mosque and Osogbo Anglican Church Cathedral for inter-denominational prayer sessions, acknowledged the harmonious and cordial relationship between the three arms of government in the State.
According to him, the Osun Judiciary has demonstrated on all fronts that it is on the side of the people at all times and it is incumbent on the government to allow the testimony to persist.
The Governor who noted that the judiciary had been part of the success story of his Administration, said “we are lucky in Osun for having harmonious and cordial relationship between the three arms of government as the existing symbiotic relationship has yielded positive impacts and unprecedented transformation in the last three years of our Administration.”
He implored members of the judiciary to continue to dispense justice and uphold the ethics of their profession.
“I therefore urge you to sustain this confidence by always allowing the fear of God and truth to be cardinal considerations in the dispensation of justice.
“You must also ensure that you sustain professionalism and the ethics of your profession that have stood you out as the friend of the common man and the hope of the people in a democracy.
“Our Administration holds the Judiciary in high esteem. We shall always ensure that the right mechanisms are put in place to ensure its independence at all times so that it can perform its role as the hope of the common man and the people.
“The three arms of Government have been remarkably united in serving the people without compromising their independence and distinctive roles under our Administration.
“The Judiciary occupies a conspicuous place in the ranking and recognition of Osun as the most peaceful State in Nigeria in view of its commitment to ensuring that justice is served in all situations and at all times. I thank the Officers in the Temple of Justice for this display of professionalism and patriotism,” Oyetola said.
He said his Administration has been working hard to ensure social inclusion and sustain peace hence the need to institutionalise inclusive and participatory governance.
Oyetola stated further: “The ultimate goal of instituting these laudable objectives is the delivery of a stronger, more prosperous and better Osun. This is only achievable in an atmosphere of peace.
“We invite the Judiciary to continue to complement our efforts by dispensing justice in a manner that will not only ensure peace but make the people to believe in and trust government.
“As you have wisely committed this Legal Year into the hands of God, I have confidence in the Almighty that it shall be a peaceful, eventful and successful year and a prosperous and rewarding one for Osun.”
In her remarks, the Chief Judge of Osun, Hon. Justice Oyebola Adepele Ojo, expressed gratitude to Governor Oyetola for giving the judiciary the pride of place to operate without interference or hitches.
Justice Ojo lauded the Administration of Governor Oyetola for continually allowing mutually-beneficial relationship between the three arms of government, this, she said had helped to retain and sustain the relative peace existing in the State.
She appreciated the Governor for always coming to their aid, saying this had gone a long way to ensure smooth dispensation of justice at all levels.
“The relationship between the Osun State Judiciary and other arms of government remains ever cordial with mutual respect for each other. We must commend Mr. Governor for his good sense of leadership duty and for his prompt response to issues affecting the Judiciary as occasions call for them.
“We are equally grateful to Mr. Governor for his unending love for Osun State Judiciary and we know that with Your Excellency’s support, this new legal year will be best ever in our history,” she added.
EndSARS: SANWO-OLU CALLS FOR HARMONY
… Invites youths for Peace Walk to herald ‘healing of Lagos’
Lagos State deserves true healing after the disturbances that trailed last year’s protests against police brutality, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said on Tuesday.
He said only sustenance of harmony can guarantee the realisation of aspirations of all residents.
Sanwo-Olu spoke in a live broadcast held at the State House, Alausa, on the State Government’s position on the recommendations of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on EndSARS submitted a fortnight ago.
The Governor said the State currently faced the hard choice of restoring harmony or doing itself a great harm, urging residents to join his administration in strengthening harmony and put the State on the path of peace.
Sanwo-Olu asked residents to reject those fueling anarchy and suspicion, clinging to unsubstantiated belief that carried no weight of verifiable evidence, while choosing emotion over facts.
His administration, he said, is ready to facilitate better communication between the youths and the State’s security machinery to resolve issues before they become intractable.
He said he would be leading ‘A Walk for Peace’ in December to herald the healing of the land, extending an open invitation to the youths, members of the diplomatic corps, civil society groups, students and the media as well as other stakeholders to join him in the Peace Walk.
The Governor specifically invited Folarin Falana (Falz), Debo Adebayo (Mr. Marcaroni), Dele Farotimi, Temitope Majekodunmi, Segun Awosanya (Segalinks), Adedotun (Just Detoun), Seun Kuti, Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu and Commander of Rapid Response Squad (RRS), CSP Yinka Egbeyemi and others to join him in the “historic march for our dear Lagos.”
He said: “Nobody will build this city for us. Let us show the world who we are. We are Lagosians. A people of great renown, driven by the irrepressible spirit of Lagos. It is a testimony to our strength and resilience as a people that, despite the huge losses incurred because of these terrible incidents, we have bounced back, with our economy as vibrant and virile as ever. I have no doubt whatsoever that our prospects are as bright as ever and the best lies ahead of Lagos State and Nigeria.
“We will make it easier for our young people to initiate formal complaints on human rights violations through the Ministry of Justice. We will also improve the coordination between the state government and the security agencies, including the police and the military. In this vein, we are studying how to improve security policy formulation, information sharing, and clarifying rules of engagement in times of social unrest.
“Just as we have established a mechanism to compensate all those who lost homes, businesses, and livelihoods to the violent destruction of October 2020, we shall also establish a detailed procedure for the just compensation of citizens with verified claims of police brutality committed during the protests.”
Speaking on last year’s EndSARS protests and the events that followed, especially the hijack of the protests by hoodlums, which led to the destruction of public and private property worth billions of naira, the Governor said the Government, the youth, protesters, the Police and other security agencies have learned the appropriate lessons from the EndSARS protests, particularly the Lekki Tollgate incident, with a view to averting any recurrence to the detriment of the State.
On mixed reactions following the release of the report of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry, Sanwo-Olu said his administration remained committed to the process that would bring a closure to a “painful episode” in the history of the State.
The much-expected White Paper, the Governor pledged, will be issued later in the day.
He recalled that the panel was originally inaugurated to investigate allegations of police brutality committed by the disbanded SARS and in the aftermath of what happened on October 20, 2020, he decided to expand the mandate to include investigating what happened at the Lekki Tollgate that night.
He said: “As a matter of good faith and a sincere commitment to uncovering the truth, we constituted a panel of individuals that we believed were independent, credible, and representative of the various stakeholder communities interested in the movement against police brutality.
“Apart from the chairman of the panel being a respected retired jurist, various stakeholders including the youths, #EndSARS protesters, the police and civil society groups were represented on the panel. I am sure no member of the panel can claim that the State Government made any attempt to influence them in any way throughout the duration of its sitting.
“While I commend the panel for undertaking its task to the best of its abilities, it is however regrettable that the panel’s work and the leakage of an unauthorised version of the report have generated much tension. Sadly, a deep wound has been reopened.
“The heated exchanges among various shades of opinion on the report have unfortunately put us all at the risk of missing the larger picture; the fact that what we all seek in common is a land in which we are all safe and secure, law enforcement agents are trusted, and justice is guaranteed for all.
“We have no intention to engage in histrionics or further inflame passion on a matter that has generated intense interest and controversy nationally and internationally. Our decisions and actions will be based entirely on the law, the weight of evidence, and unblemished respect for the truth.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu, while expressing his administration’s commitment to end human rights abuses, said he has never been in any doubt as to the sincerity, patriotism and noble motivations of both organisers of EndSARS protests and those who participated in the movement to see an end to the human rights abuses by the now disbanded Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS).
He said it is also on record that the Federal Government accepted all the demands of the protesters, including the immediate scrapping of SARS, adding that the National Economic Council (NEC) also recommended the establishment of State Panels of Inquiry into cases of police brutality and the Lagos State Government was the first to set up its own panel.
He said: “I can boldly say that no State took the advocacy for police reforms and justice in the face of documented brutality more seriously than we did in Lagos. We have so far paid N420 million in compensation to victims of police brutality, in line with the recommendations of the panel.
“My good people of Lagos State, you will also recall that in solidarity with the protesters, I joined our youths at various points during the demonstrations, particularly at the Lekki Tollgate and Alausa.
“I received the charter of demands of the protesters and promised to pass them on to the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari.
“I kept my word and passed on the demands to the President, who promised to act promptly on the issues raised. However, perhaps as a result of entrenched lack of trust between the government and the governed over the years, the protesters responded to the government’s concessions with skepticism, and the demonstrations continued, even growing in intensity.
“Regrettably, what had been very well organized and peaceful protests were subsequently hijacked in different parts of the country, particularly in Lagos. In the ensuing descent into anarchy, many of our compatriots were caught up in the violence. Several policemen were killed. Public and private property, including critical infrastructure, were set on fire, leading to losses estimated at several billions of naira.
“At that point, I imposed a curfew to restore normalcy in Lagos. We had only one goal in mind: the maintenance of law and order, and the protection of citizens going about their daily lives. This is more than a legal duty. It is a sacred obligation under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which I swore to uphold,” the governor explained.
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