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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid