Another major problem that has surfaced for the Nigerian government is how to frustrate the armed bandits who have allegedly devised ways to bypass communication ban in some states in the North.
This issue came to the fore after armed bandits attacked Nigerian troops that are on counter banditry operation in Zamfara Sate. According to a report by Daily Trust, twelve security agents were killed in the latest attack that took place last Saturday. It added that the major reason why the attack on troops took place and succeeded was because the frontline troops suffered difficulty in communication.
On the other hand, the armed bandits operating in the area have devised means to bypass the ban on communication in the area. It would be recalled the state governments of Zamfara and Katsina had ordered a jam of communication network to make communication hard for the bandits while the operation against them continues. Unfortunately, the troops also suffer from the failure of communication while the bandits devise other ways to bypass the ban. This article will discuss the two ways the bandits use to bypass the ban on communication and how the federal government led by President Muhammadu Buhari can step in to frustrate the bandits.
They use Thuraya satellite phones. This is one way the bandits use to bypass the ban on communication. In fact, this disclosure was made by one of the bandits kingpin known as Shehu Rekeb. Rekeb boasted that the ban on communication does not stop them from operating in the areas. He added that many of them use the Thuraya satellite phones to communicate. Obviously, while the telecoms operators jammed communication service in most off the areas, it appears that the Thuraya still works and the bandits are taking advantage of this. Following this revelation, it is high time the federal government looked into the mode of operation of the Thuraya satellite with a view to shutting it down too. If the Thuraya satellite is shut down as well, then the bandits will be frustrated as they will not be able to use it to bypass the communication ban.
The bandits use other telecommunication networks that still work in some areas in Zamfara and others. This is another way they bypass the ban on communication. While the services of telecom networks jammed in most parts of the states, the bandits revealed that they still use the services of two other network providers that are still available in some areas in the states. The name were mentioned in the report cited above.
It is time for the federal government and the affected state government to order a total shutdown of the telecoms networks in all areas of the states to frustrate the bandits. It may also be nice if the government can order the telecoms operators mentioned in the report to track calls and message sent from remote locations and block the lines especially the ones used by people that have not been verified via their NIN. In fact, tracking the calls and messages may lead to nabbing some of the bandits. But, a total shutdown will be a better option. Government officials, security agents and others that render essential services can be given alternative means of communication like walkie talkie while the ban lasts until bandits are decisively dealt with.