News / Africa

Telecom Attacks Cripple Communication in Nigeria's North

A man using his cell phone in a neighborhood just north of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, in Lagos, Nigeria, June 3, 2012.A man using his cell phone in a neighborhood just north of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, in Lagos, Nigeria, June 3, 2012.
x
A man using his cell phone in a neighborhood just north of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, in Lagos, Nigeria, June 3, 2012.
A man using his cell phone in a neighborhood just north of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, in Lagos, Nigeria, June 3, 2012.
Heather Murdock
Weeks after the Islamist militant group known as Boko Haram attacked more than 30 cell phone towers, residents of some of the most volatile cities in Nigeria say they feel imprisoned with phones and Internet service barely working.

When reporting from the central city of Abuja, it's hard to get audio from much of the north because the Internet is not nearly strong enough.  When we call, a message usually says the phone is off or the networks are busy.  
 
Earlier this month, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for attacking mobile phone towers near several northern cities, saying the phone companies were helping the government spy on them.  
 
A VOA reporter in Maiduguri spoke to residents who say now, with hardly any phone and internet service, their businesses are failing and they feel isolated and scared.
 
Maiduguri is best known for being the original home of Boko Haram, which has been blamed for more than 600 deaths this year alone.  The group has targeted churches, schools, markets, newspaper offices, government officials and security forces.
 
Kabir Mato, director of the Institute for Anti-Corruption Studies at the University of Abuja, says the insurgency is a result of the huge divide between Nigeria's rich and extreme poor, which is most of the population.

"The leaders live in continuously generated houses. Big buildings with very strong walls under air conditioners. And the rest are there 24 hours without electricity," said Mato. "There's no piped in water.  It's so difficult to eat.  I'm of the view that the social crisis in this country is greatly responsible for the insurrections we are having."

Mato says extra-judicial killings are also responsible for the rise of Boko Haram.

The group says it wants to impose Islamic law and free imprisoned members.
 
In Maiduguri, the VOA reporter says the phone companies are publically promising to restore service and asking for patience while they work.  But an employee, who asked not to be named, said the workers aren't fixing the equipment because they are afraid they will be attacked.  Many of those workers, he added, have fled the region.
 
Security forces have promised to increase police presence to protect the telecom equipment.  But in Nigeria, police and soldiers, like everyone else, rely on their cell phones to communicate.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid