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The  Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isah Pantami, has said security agencies requested the recent shutdown of telecommunication services in Zamfara State to curtail banditry.

He added that the request was at the behest of the Zamfara State Government.

The minister said this while briefing journalists on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja on Wednesday.

He said the directive did not originate from his ministry and the Federal Government did not object to the request either.

When asked if the network shutdown would be extended to Katsina, Kaduna and other bandit-prone states, the minister said responding to such a question would reveal too much security information and jeopardise efforts.

He said, “I am aware of the shutting down, but the request is not from us. Rather, the request is from the security institutions; they asked for that as part of their strategy.

“Because of this, the government allowed them to go ahead and the reason for doing that, I may be aware of som; but I’m sorry to say it’s not for public discussion.”

The minister explained that the directive was originally a request from the Zamfara State Government to the FG saying, “Mr President, as we always know that his priority is security, he always listens to complaints like these and new strategies on how to handle them. So, he is very much aware.”

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When asked if there would be any compensation package for service providers who would lose money as a result of the shutdown, Pantami said, “Investors in the sector invested because of profit, but they understand the priority of our government. When security and economic benefits are going to be attained simultaneously, definitely, we are going to pursue both of them.”

In his remark at the briefing, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, announced that FEC also approved the National Policy of Food and Nutrition.

Shehu added that the council  approved the consultancy for the design and construction of the second runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja for N500m.

Also at the briefing was the Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, who said FEC approved the award of contract for procurement of 40 sets of 330 kV isolators for the Transmission Company of Nigeria.

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