According to reports, Islamic group Boko Haram has destroyed over 25 mast stations belonging to mobile telecommunication operators in the Northern part of Nigeria. Aside from the attacks, four MTN Nigeria staff were reportedly killed by the group in Maiduguri while trying to bomb the company's base station.
MTN is South Africa's pan-African mobile network operator with 22 operations across Africa, but Nigeria boasts the largest number of MTN Group's subscribers exceeding more than 62 million.
The destruction of the masts may not be unconnected with past threats by the group to punish telecommunications companies in the country for assisting law enforcement agencies to track and arrest their members.
Police spokesman, Frank Mba confirmed the report and said the police are on the trail of the perpetrators of the act.
"We received the report of the destruction of over 25 telecoms mast in Maiduguri and the killing of 4 MTN staff. Our men are on top of the situation and we will definitely apprehend the culprits", Mba said.
President of the Association of Licenced Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo confirmed the incident, "I received information few hours ago that some base stations in the north east Nigeria were bombed by some elements. About 25 base stations were involved. I do not know why they did that." he said.
Government urged to step in
Adebayo asked government to come to their aid by enacting a law that will criminalize the destruction of telecommunications infrastructure.
Reacting to the incident, Olajide Aremu, manager of network operation centre, Globacom, urged the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and the police to help with the protection of telecom equipment as critical national ICT infrastructure.
Regulatory affairs manager of MTN Nigeria, Bankole Falade said the effect of the vandalisation of the base stations and fibre optic cables will be felt by the banking industry as bank customers may find it difficult to make withdrawals at the automated teller machines.
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