Nigeria lifts cellphone blackout
19 July 2013, 18:10
Maiduguri - Nigeria lifted a mobile phone blackout on the Islamist militant
stronghold of Maiduguri on Friday, saying there were signs of improving
security after months of blasts and attacks.
Signals were cut in the remote northeastern town and surrounding states in
May in a bid to disrupt the activities of the Islamist Boko Haram sect, whose
insurgency has killed thousands of people in the past three years.
The restoration of phone services was "in reaction to the improved
security situation and to relax the environment and ease tensions", said
military spokesperson Chris Olukolade.
The blackout has also hurt mobile phone companies including MTN, Gulf
operator Etisalat and India's Bharti Airtel who have millions of customers in
State of emergency
President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and
Adamawa states on 14 May, ordering extra troops in to try to crush Boko Haram.
The phone networks went down the same week, but returned in Adamawa last
week and in Yobe on Wednesday.
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 hundreds of suspected insurgents.
But the situation remains fragile. Boko Haram - whose name roughly
translates as 'Western education is sinful' - has attacked at least four
schools there over the past month, killings dozens of pupils.
Nigeria plans to withdraw much of its 1 200-strong contingent from the
United Nations peace keeping mission in Mali, saying the troops are needed to
beef up security at home, sources familiar with the matter say.