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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to reverse what it called the unjustified suspension of internet and telecommunication networks in Zamfara and Katsina states.
The NCC recently ordered telecom operators to suspend all telecommunications networks in Zamfara State, and at least 13 local government areas of Katsina State to check “banditry” and terrorism.
Reacting to the moves, SERAP in an open letter signed by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, said the suspension is without any legal justification.
It also said it is inconsistent with the principles of necessity and proportionality.
According to the organization, the suspension is a form of collective punishment of Nigerians resident in these states.
“The suspension of internet and telecommunication networks in Zamfara and Katsina states is particularly egregious, and suggests a disturbing trend, especially given the growing restriction of civic space in Nigeria.
“Shutdowns should never become an entrenched practice in the country,” SERAP said:
SERAP further said while the authorities have a legal responsibility to protect, ensure and secure the rights to life and property, any such responsibility ought to be discharged in conformity with constitutional and international human rights standards.”
“Large-scale shutdowns of communication networks are a form of collective punishment. Shutdowns exert significant chilling effects, with direct implications on participatory democracy, whose existence depends upon an active and informed citizenry capable of engaging with a range of ideas.”
“Shutdowns generate a wide variety of harms to human rights, economic activity, public safety and emergency services that outweigh the purported benefits. The suspension has the potential to affect millions of internet and telecommunication users in these states, and those on the margins of society are most impacted by it.”
“The suspension of internet and telecommunication networks in Zamfara and Katsina states fails to meet the requirements of legality, necessity and proportionality.”
“The requirement of necessity also implies an assessment of the proportionality of restrictions such as the telecoms blackout in these states, with the aim of ensuring that restrictions target a specific objective and do not unduly intrude upon human rights.”