The Joint Task Force (JTF) yesterday banned the indefinite use of Thuraya mobile phones in all states under emergency rule, sequel to the rising spate of killings in the states under emergency rule.Thuraya phones are based on satellite technology and does not work on any of the existing GSM or CDMA networks in the country.
Boko Haram has reportedly resorted to using Thuraya phones to coordinate attacks since mobile communications were largely suspended by the military.
The ban on satellite phones may worsen the communication challenges being faced by residents in the affected states as regular mobile networks have been largely shut down for about five weeks since emergency rule was declared.
The spokesman of the Joint Task Force, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa, said in a statement that the ban on Thuraya became necessary as military intelligence revealed that terrorists now coordinate their attacks using the device.
The JTF said recent attacks on schools and killing of students by Boko Haram were carried out using Thuraya devices.
“The attention of the JTF has been drawn to the use of Thuraya phones by Boko Haram terrorists to coordinate their recent assassination of civilians especially school children and some Imams.
“Therefore, with effect from 19 June, 2013, the JTF imposes a ban on the use and sale of Thuraya phones and accessories including Thuraya recharge cards in Borno State. Anyone seen with Thuraya phones, recharge cards and accessories will be arrested.
“The JTF seeks the continued cooperation and understanding of the public on this ban, in order to enhance security of lives and property in Borno State,” the statement said.
Also, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has reassured Nigerians that the resurgent attacks by suspected members of Boko Haram in some parts of the north where emergency rule was declared, particularly in Borno and Yobe States have not in any way diminished the success of the JTF in these areas but was an indication of end-game desperation on the part of the insurgents.
This was stated yesterday by the Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig-Gen. Chris Olukolade, who explained that such isolated attacks carried out by pockets of the insurgents are similar strategies deployed by defeated terrorists all over the world.
Olukolade noted that the recent attacks were planned to deceive members of the public into believing that the group, which he insisted had been scattered and on the run, was still vibrant.
He said, "The DHQ has noted a number of attacks and killing of innocent citizens ostensibly carried out by terrorists in Yobe and Borno States in the last couple of days.
“Although these isolated incidents were undertaken by relocating terrorists, the whole trend and development remains unfortunate and condemnable. "Nevertheless, the public is hereby reassured that these incidents are by no means indicative of a relapse in the counter-insurgency operation aimed at curbing terrorists’ activities in the country.
"Rather, this trend of sneaking in to carry out isolated attacks on soft targets as a way of seeking attention is a typical end-game strategy often employed by insurgents all over the world.
“In this instance, the recent activities are signs of desperation of a decimated insurgent group attempting to hang on to the public consciousness.”
Olukayode maintained that with the destruction of Boko Haram operational bases and camps by the special forces, "the group’s centre of gravity has been effectively dislocated making it impossible for them to have freedom of action to operate as they did previously.” He said that the special forces have stepped up the mop up, cordon and search operations to ensure that the vestiges of terrorism are effectively further decimated in those states.
Olukolade also disclosed that about eight of the terrorists who perpetrated the mayhem during the weekend had been apprehended on the outskirts of Maiduguri.
"The Defence Headquarters therefore urges members of the public to continue to report any suspicious movement to security agents," he said.
However, gunmen suspected to be members of the sect again stormed a private secondary school in the Customs area of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, yesterday killing four teachers and two students.
This is as another set of suspected terrorists laid ambush on a farm situated along Maiduguri- Mafa- Dikwa Road in the city and killed two farmers.