Written by Sarah NEGEDU

Workers’ protest: vandals attack MTN installations

Critical telecommunication installations belonging to MTN Nigeria Communications Limited were recently vandalised by unidentified persons after the recent picketing of the company by members of the Nigerian Labour Congress.

Government fears that sustained attack on telecom facilities could lead to collapse of the telecommunications grid or further pose a security threat to the country.

The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has therefore mobilised men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps to protect the equipment and installations of the leading digital mobile operator.

Members of the NLC last week, besiege the MTN head office in Lagos and other offices in different parts of the country, over alleged anti-labour practices by the telecommunications service provider.

A statement issued by the NCC explain that the dispute between the telecom firm and the labour union had resulted in the vandalism of telecommunications equipment, thereby prompting the regulatory agency’s intervention to save the country’s critical infrastructure.

“In the wake of the labour dispute between MTN, one of its major licensees, and labour, and the protests that have resulted in the vandalism of telecom infrastructure, the NCC on Monday night activated the Memorandum of Understanding with the NSCDC to protect the switch stations and Base Transceiver Stations belonging to MTN and other telecom operators.

“The commission had contacted ACG Iyogho of the NSCDC on the matter and directed MTN to liaise with the NSCDC on the issue of the picketing by the NLC and the reported destruction of telecom infrastructure across the country.

“The NCC has also briefed the security agencies on the developments, particularly the implications of the attempt to shut down the Ojota switch station. A collapse of the telecommunications grid is likely if these attacks on MTN and other telecom facilities are not abated.”

Telecom infrastructure had been classified as critical national infrastructure by the Cyber Security Act domiciled with the Office of the National Security Adviser.

Already, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta has opened talks with other critical stakeholders through the office of the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders’ Management, Mr Sunday Dare, on the issue.

The NCC stated that the leadership of the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria and Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria was working with the regulatory agency on the developments.

It added that it was working behind the scene to protect telecom infrastructure and minimise service disruption in order not to compromise national security, quality of service and to protect over 160 million subscribers.

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