Lt- Col. Sagir Musa, spokesman of the Joint Military Task Force,confirmed attacks on telecoms facilities in Maiduguri.He reportedly blamed the incidents on members of the Boko Haram sect. Sagir’s statement said, “The JTF has observed the mutation of criminal activities occasioned by Boko Haram terrorists in Borno state, who commenced the burning and destruction of GSM masts and communication facilities in some areas of Maiduguri metropolis. Consequently the task force wishes to inform the public that it is determined and committed to securing lives and properties of Nigerians within its area of operational responsibility”.
“The JTF wishes to appreciate cooperation and understanding between members of d public and security agencies and to re-emphasize that there is a collective responsibility. Thus, the public are reminded to continue to give credible information to the security operative through the following hotlines: 08064174066; 08154429346; 07065464012, so as to contain the ugly trend”.
PEOPLES DAILY reported the Maidugi attacks thus: “Gunmen yesterday launched coordinated attacks on telecommunication installations in Borno and Bauchi states destroying masts and other facilities belonging to the major telecommunication companies in the country. This is just as suspected gunmen slaughtered at least four persons in Gwange Ward of Maiduguri, the Borno state capital. The assailants were said to have on Tuesday night attacked their victims while they were fast asleep and used sharp object to slit their throats. Worst hit in the Borno attack on telecommunication companies was GSM giant, MTN which had its Maiduguri regional office that houses its major installations burnt down by the gunmen.
“ at least 15 masts, belonging to various service providers including Globacom, Etisalat, Airtel and Visafone were burnt down by the gunmen.
“The situation resulted in serious network hitches as operations of some of the service providers were completely disrupted, while phone users suffered hardships using the services.
“Investigation revealed that the MTN regional office along Baga road, west end of Maiduguri metropolis, was the first target, when over 10 men, armed with AK 47 rifles and explosives stormed the area and fired several shot into the air, before bombing the entire complex.
“The incident, which occurred at about 2 am, caused confusion in the area as residents were woken up by the horrifying sounds of explosives and gunshots. The arsonists had reportedly chased away the three night security guards at the building, who escaped unhurt.
“Further checks also revealed that few minutes later, other service masts in various locations were attacked and burnt by the rampaging gunmen. Reporters, who went round the city observed that the affected masts were located in Dala Lawanti, Bolori, Ngarnam, Dala Alamdiri, Adam Kolo areas.
“Others were Gwange, Railway Quarters, Bulunkutu, Gomari, Silimanti, Polo, Bulabulin Ngarnam, among others. In all the incidents, there was no report of casualty, as the attackers “were said to have only targeted the facilities of the telecommunication firms and only chase the guards away without attacking them.
PEOPLES DAILY reports as that “In Bauchi, gunmen also attacked the installation of a telecommunications company injuring one person. The attackers threw an explosive at the installation which exploded at the gate without causing serious damage on the equipment. Another explosive device also targeted at an installation along Gombe state was diffused by the police.
“Bauchi state Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Hassan Mohammed Auyo, confirmed the incident but said he will furnish journalists with the details later.
“However, a security source said the security agencies earlier got wind of plans of the attacks and deployed personnel to strategic points. He said: “We took adequate security measures; we deployed security personnel to guard every identified flash point to ensure that they did not give them chance to attack. Even the one targeted at the mast exploded outside the gate where the hoodlums dropped it.
“The security man guarding the place was on red alert. Everything inside the mast was intact except the metal door that slightly injured the security guard”, the source said.
“The motive behind the attacks and those responsible were not clear as at press time. However, it will be recalled that in February this year, the Jama’atu Ahlissunna Lida’awati Wal Jihad, also known as Boko Haram, through its spokesman, Abul Qaqa had threatened to renew its onslaught on GSM service providers for “leaking the identify of its members to the security operatives.
“In a telephone interview with newsmen at that time, Qaqa warned that the GSM operators would be targeted for allegedly conniving with security agents to release the bio-data and locations of the sect’s members.
“Meanwhile, unknown gunmen on Tuesday night stormed a compound in Yoruba street, Gwange Ward, in Maiduguri metropolis and slaughtered four persons.
“The slain persons were reportedly fast asleep, when the assailants, who were said to be armed with dangerous weapons, raided their house and held them at gun point, before using sharp object to slit the throats of their victims.
DAILY TRUST captured the attacks on Facilities in Kano succinctly: “In Kano, men on motorbikes destroyed MTN and Airtel mobile phone masts in Hotoron Hangama and Sharada industrial estate early yesterday.
“An official of MTN, who does not want to be named, told our correspondent that the company’s Hotoron Hangama base station went up in flames around 7am.
“It is obvious that the fire was set by someone because we hardly encounter such fire incidents at our stations,” he said.
“Witnesses reported seeing two men on a motorcycle setting the facility on fire.
“A security guard attached to one of the industries in Sharada said the Airtel base station was burnt by two attackers.
“Meanwhile, security was beefed up around telecommunication installations in all parts of Kano yesterday.
“When contacted, spokesman for the Kano State Police Command, ASP Musa Magaji Majiya, said a fire incident was reported at MTN base station in Hotoro but was put out immediately by guards. H said the command did not receive any report about the incident affecting Airtel mast in Sharada.
Daily Trust also noted that “In Bauchi, one person was injured when an explosive went off apparently targeting a mobile telecom installation on Tuesday night. The Police said they diffused another bomb elsewhere in the city.
“Spokesman for the Police in Bauchi ASP Hassan Mohammed Auyo confirmed the incidents but did not give details.
“In his reaction, chairman of Association Licensed Telecommunications of Nigeria (ALTON) Engr. Gbenga Adebayo said attacks on telecom facilities could affect the quality of service.
“No one claimed responsibility for the attacks as at last night, but the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnah Lid Da’awati Wal Jihad otherwise known as Boko Haram in February threatened to attack telecom companies over alleged collaboration with security agencies that led to the arrest of some of their members.