Mobile phone service was turned off yesterday in Borno and Yobe, stifling social life and business activities in two of the three states affected by the proclamation of state of emergency on Tuesday.
Daily Trust’s correspondents reported that services of all the GSM networks–Airtel, MTN, Glo and Etisalat–were unavailable since early morning yesterday, obviously turned off as part of the military operation aimed at ridding the areas of insurgents.
There was no official statement on why the cell phone services were turned off, but insurgents were believed to have used mobile phones to remotely detonate bombs in the past.
Fighter jets and thousands of troops have been deployed to Borno and Yobe, as well as to Adamawa State which is also under emergency rule, to try to dislodge insurgents whose uprising caused the death of thousands since 2009.
“I think the cell phone service cut was taken in order to give way for soldiers to launch unhindered onslaught on suspects in targeted areas,” a Maiduguri resident said.
Cell phone service disruption is not new to some parts of northern Borno, as many towns in Gubio and Monguno local government areas have been without service since last year when insurgents destroyed cell towers there.
But for the first time, southern Borno including Biu, Hawul and Bayo local government areas have been affected following yesterday’s cut of mobile phone services.
Grema Babagoni, who came into Maiduguri from Biu, said the cell phone service shut down affected social and economic lives of the people.
Motorists who came to Maiduguri from the border towns of Gamboru Ngala and Marte said Cameroonian authorities also turned off telecommunication signals that reach those communities.