IGP, Mohammed Abubakar
Following last week’s attacks on telecoms facilities, which led to the destruction of 25 Base Transceiver Station (BTS) worth over N1 billion, telecoms operators have called on the Federal Government to urgently device a means to protect such facilities.
Counting their losses, the operators under the aegis of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) expressed their regret for the attacks and destruction of telecommunications BTS and other infrastructure in Northern Nigeria.
Apart from full protection of the facilities, the operators urged government to declare telecoms facilities as national critical infrastructure, which must be seen by every Nigerian as national infrastructure that belongs to the country.
The attacks which occurred in the early hours of the 5th, 6th 7th and 8th of September, 2012 resulted in severe service disruptions in the areas primarily affected.
Telecoms operators affected were MTN, Globacom, Airtel, Etisalat, Multilinks, and telecom infrastructure provider, Helios Towers, and the states affected were Yobe, Gombe Bauchi, Bornu, Adamawa, Taraba, Kano and Jigawa.
The impacts of the attacks have since been felt in other parts of the country particularly in areas of the North. The attacks have limited the ability of millions of Nigerian subscribers to access telecommunications services.
The association noted that the unfortunate incidents were against the common good of all citizens of Nigeria as ALTON members and millions of Nigerians affected, have suffered severe difficulties with communications, financial and other losses as a result of the attacks.
Speaking through their industry body, ALTON, the operators resolved to ensure that they deliver and sustain the best service quality under the present circumstances to their subscribers nationwide.
ALTON Chairman, Mr Gbenga Adebayo who spoke on behalf of the operators, said: “We wish to reiterate the association’s on the Federal Government to declare, all Information and Communications Technology (ICT) facilities and infrastructure as a national critical security infrastructure, with immediate effect.”
According to him, ‘It is imperative for the government to provide the necessary protection to such facilities in the national interest. The infrastructure built and owned by the telecommunications industry is the springboard to an ICT revolution in Nigeria and they are essential for Nigeria’s socio-economic advancement.’
ALTON specifically called on the National Assembly to pass into law relevant Legislation to assure the protection of ICT and telecommunications infrastructure across the country as a matter of urgency.
Adebayo noted: ‘This will ensure the appropriate legal framework for infrastructure protection and thereby ensure that growth and development objectives, which leverage on the seamless availability of telecommunications infrastructure are more efficiently achieved’.
Adebayo, on behalf of the association thanked the Inspector General of Police, the security and intelligence unit of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and other stakeholders for the support received since the attacks commenced. He also commended host communities whose vigilance and support have prevented further attacks to infrastructure within their communities.
He said: “We assure all telecoms subscribers that our members will continue to do all within their means to restore services to the affected areas at the earliest possible time, and we thank our subscribers for their understanding.”