By Suleman Tudu

There was a public uproar in Zamfara over the announcement of Zamfara state government that it may re-introduce stringent measures to contain the rising insecurity challenges bedeviling the state including the possible shutdown of telecommunication network services in the state.

The announcement was contained in a statement signed by Hon Zailani Baffa, the Special Adviser to the Executive Governor of Zamfara state on Wednesday while the Governor was reacting to the abduction of about 30 promising young entrepreneurs of Bebeji Plaza, Gusau over the weekend on their way back to Gusau after attending a social function in Sokoto.

“This singular incident marks another sad moment in the fight against the security challenges we are facing our dear state. I appeal to the families of all abducted persons to have confidence in our ability to do all that is needed to be done in rescuing their dear ones. I have directed all security agencies for speedy location of the abducted persons and will, Insha Allah, be rescued”, Governor Matawalle assured.

However, the Governor lamented the rising activities of the informants’ who are feeding the bandit terrorists with information against the innocent citizens and state and reiterated the determination of the government to take more stringent measures to contain the menace including telecommunication shutdown when necessary.

“We have noted the rise of informants’ activities leading to many unfortunate banditry attacks on soft targets. We shall take more stringent steps in addressing the current situation, including possible communication shut down once again”, Governor Matawalle announced.

Meanwhile, this announcement has generated heated debate among Zamfara inhabitants, most of which are against the move due to past experiences.

SMARTS NEWS have reported that Zamfara state Government has in September 2021 introduced some “stringent measures” under security challenges circumscription order No. 1, 2021 which among many other things suspended all weekly markets, restricted movements and banned the sale of petroleum in Jerry Cans. These were later followed by additional shutdown of telecommunication network services in the state on the request of the state government. These measures were subsequently adopted by the neighboring states of Katsina, Kaduna, Sokoto and Niger.

Despite these measures, the terror attacks on innocent citizens could not stop. Hence, the suspension of these orders in the affected states after about two months of their implementation.

An activist of good governance in Zamfara state, Dr Aminu M Lawal Tsafe (Al-Amin Tsafe) has dropped his comments on the issue via his Facebook handle:

“Zamfara state Government is considering shutting down mobile networks to address insecurity challenges. This is not a good decision. When the government shut down the networks from September to October (in some places, to almost December) ordinary people suffered. After stopping business activities and affecting livelihoods, the decision did not produce the desired result in addressing the insecurity challenges,” Dr Tsafe said.

Another public affairs analyst and advocate of good governance in the state, Sulaiman Tukur has has also commented on the topic through his Facebook page:

“Throughout the (previous) network shutdown in Zamfara, no record of improvement was released from Defense Headquarters because it used to release timely progress updates. And the state government did not claim to have recorded any success apart from the claim of the Governor (Matawalle) that over one hundred of informants’ have been arrested. Yet, no suspect was arraigned and no security agency has corroborated this claim”, Mr Tukur declared.

Dr Sirajo A. Bakura has also criticized the move through his Facebook handle:

“A serious govt should rather exploit communication opportunities to locate, isolate, and possibly attack criminals targets.

“Contrary to security benefits of communication gadgets, Zamfara State governor is playing blaming game and risking economic and digital opportunities of his people.

“I don’t think Zamfarawa can afford to experience second web of Communication Shutdown Tsunami,” Dr Sirajo Lamented.

The public has misconceived the statement—Governor’s media office

In response to the public outcry and rumor in circulation that Governor Matawalle has ordered the Telecom shutdown, the media office of the Governor has on Thursday issued a rejoinder signed by Malam Zailani Baffa debunking the rumor in order to put the record straight.

“It has become necessary to clear some obvious misconception of a certain statement emanating from this office on the above subject matter which has generated disturbing rumour currently circulating in the state,” the statement read.

The media office further clarifies the earlier statement of Governor Matawalle that the public misconceived.

“He [Governor Matawalle] stated that if the implementation of communication shut down becomes necessary, it can be employed once again, but at no point in time did His Excellency announce the shut down of tele-conmunications services, nor requested the discharging Agency for its implementaion,” the media clarified.