Media Rights Agenda has frowned on the directive by the Nigerian Communications Commission to telecommunication companies in Zamfara State.
NCC had, last week, ordered the firms to shut down telecoms services in Zamfara, following the poor security situation in the state.
In a statement, on Monday, MRA’s Communications Officer, Idowu Adewale, urged the NCC to reverse the decision immediately.
It described the measure as unwarranted and unjustifiable interference with the rights to freedom of expression and access to information.
The group noted that the NCC, which is supposed to be a regulatory agency, had increasingly become a tool in the hands of the Federal Government for indiscriminate violation of the rights of Nigerians.
It argued, “Such purported exercise of power without safeguards to deny communications services not only to the residents of Zamfara State, but also to other people, who have family members, friends, loved ones as well as other social or business relations in the state, of the right to communicate with them, without judicial or any other form of independent oversight, cannot be justified under any circumstance.
“There is no evidence anywhere in the world that shutting down communication services, including access to the Internet and telephone, helps improve security, prevent or stop terrorist attacks.”
According to the group, commonsense and available evidence indicate that the more likely result from such a measure is that the operations of security agencies and emergency services will be thwarted by the obstruction of vital public information during terrorists attacks, when their services are most needed.
It also observed that there was already ample support for this proposition from the Nigerian experience when, in 2013, the government also shut down telecom services in three North East states, which yielded no result.
“The experience from that period was that not only did terrorists attacks by Boko Haram continue when telecommunication services were cut off, but in many instances, the attacks actually appeared to have intensified,” MRA noted.
Calling on the NCC to immediately rescind the directive, the group urged security agencies to find more innovative and effective ways to address the security situation, which is government’s duty to the citizenry.
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