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Boko Haram: JTF bans Thuraya phones in Borno State

JTF spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa
Nigeria’s military banned the use of Thuraya satellite phones on Wednesday in Borno State; a step it said was designed to stop communication by Islamist militants.

President Goodluck Jonathan had declared a state of emergency in Borno and two other states on May 14, ordering extra troops in to crush the Islamist sect, Boko Haram, whose insurgency against the state has killed thousands of people in the past three years.

Authorities had cut the mobile network in Borno State in the same week to disrupt Boko Haram’s operations.

Borno State military spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa, was quoted by Reuters as saying that the ban was imposed after evidence emerged that Boko Haram used satellite phones to coordinate attacks on civilians, including attack on two schools in the past week.

Suspected Islamist militants fired into a school in Maiduguri on Tuesday, killing nine students. The attack followed one in the city of Damaturu, Yobe State, also under a state of emergency, in which seven pupils and two teachers were killed.

“Effective from June 19, 2013, the Joint Task Force imposes a ban on the use and sale of Thuraya phones and accessories,” Musa said in a statement, adding, “Anyone seen with Thuraya phones, recharge cards and accessories will be arrested.”

The move will make it even more difficult for journalists to report from the conflict zone, something press freedom groups say Nigeria’s military has been trying to do anyway.

Nigerian forces say their offensive has enabled them to wrest back control of the remote northeast from Boko Haram. They say they have destroyed important bases and arrested more than 150 suspected insurgents.

But critics take the latest attacks as evidence that Boko Haram will prove almost impossible to stamp out using pure military means, since they inhabit a vast, semi-desert area with porous borders with Chad, Cameroon and Niger.

Stakeholders in the telecoms industry, however, say the ban on telephones and telecoms accessories as well as recharge cards, threatens the projected revenue of telecoms firms in the country.

The development, it is believed, may cut the North off from the planned investments by the operators on their networks across the country.

Source: Punch News

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