Danbatta expresses concern over telecom infrastructure safety

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The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ibrahim Pantami on Monday ordered stakeholders in the telecom industry, as well as the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to furnish his office and the Office the National Security Adviser (ONSA) to the President with details of strategy communications infrastructure across the country.

He said this became necessary to forestall attacks on critical National Infrastructure by any group of persons or individuals, stressing that stakeholders should attach unique identity to the infrastructure to enable government deploy security forces for their protection.

Pantami’s remarks came on the heels of the shock expressed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday over the attacks on fibre infrastructure in the Northeast by some yet to be identified aggrieved labourers.

NCC’s Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, who expressed the concern of the Commission, said the development constituted a breach of national security.

It was learnt that fibre infrastructure of MTN and Airtel and other carriers have been cut off by irate labourers who were engaged by some persons working on telecom infrastructure, but were denied their pay.

Maiduguri, the Borno State capital as well as Damaturu, the Yobe State capital and other cities and towns in the Northeast, have been cut off from communications to people within and outside the region as a result of the cut in the fibre facilities of telecom service providers.

The Minister and Danbatta spoke at a Stakeholders Consultative Forum on the Implementation of the National Broadband Policy 2020-2025, at the Digital Economy Complex, Mbora, Abuja.

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Danbatta said reports indicated that fibre infrastructure had been cut again by today, (Monday), thereby cutting millions of people off lines in the Northeast.

He spoke in response to concerns raised by the Chief Operating Officer of MTN, Mr Mazen Mrouf and Airtel’s Vice President (Networks) Dr Adedoyin Adeola, on the attacks on fibre facilities in the Northeast by some irate groups.

Danbatta said: “Yes, we are aware of the cut of fibre infrastructures in the northeast last Friday. We took up the matter immediately. But reports reaching me right indicates that some labourers are responsible. And that they have cut it again as of today”

Danbatta said the intervention of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) as well as the government of Borno state has become imperative to address the challenge.

He explained that the matter would be addressed just as the NCC engaged the Nigeria Customs Service in dialogue when it ordered the stoppage of supplies of diesel to base stations in border towns/areas of the country.

However, the Minister said to address the matter it was important for telecom operators as well as the NCC to produce a database for all telecom facilities across the country with unique identity attach to them to enable government fashion security protection for them.

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The Minister who lamented that he had made the request before wondered why the stakeholders were yet to respond up till now, saying:  “We all want results, but the little we have to do to achieve such results nobody is taking it serious.”

Pantami also called on the stakeholders to intimate his office on any form of multiple taxations from the states, asserting that he would engage the governors to address such just the way the Right of Way (RoW) issue was resolved.

The Minister, who expressed the determination of the administration, to achieve the goals and targets set for the National Broadband Policy 2020-2025, said telecom operators should also make their request on access to Foreign Exchange to enable discuss it with the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

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