Gunmen attacked the facilities of GSM providers MTN, Airtel and Globacom for allegedly aiding security agencies to arrest their members, sources said yesterday.
The thinking in official circle is that the gunmen are aggrieved that the GSM firms may have been assisting security agencies to track their movements through the GPRS facility.
But the government has initiated a fresh security strategy to protect base stations and telecoms facilities, in addition to the security arrangement put in place by the GSM companies.
According to a preliminary stock-taking of the situation by the military and security high commands, the attackers are unhappy that their lines are being tracked.
It was gathered that some gunmen had wanted to meet in Maiduguri on Wednesday but the Joint Task Force (JTF) got to know about it allegedly through the “tapping” of their lines.
The militia accused some of the GSM providers of being willing tools of military and security agencies.
A top government official, who pleaded not to be named, said: “Preliminary investigation confirmed that these militant groups allegedly suspected that the GSM firms had been working with military and other security agencies to tap their lines and locations.
“They believe that the romance between the GSM firms and the military and other security agencies accounted for recent killing of their members and foiling of some bombings. In retaliation, they decided to attack their offices, base stations and other telecoms facilities.
“The government is making efforts to secure these facilities because they are not only used for GSM operations; there are other bends of communication for some sectors of the economy, including the military. In communication, sometimes, you share facilities.
“If we do not take preemptive security measures to protect these facilities, the Northeast may slide into communication blockade which may worsen the security situation in the region.
A JTF source said: “Military and security high commands have described the attacks on masts and offices as misplaced.
“How can they say the telecoms companies are aiding the security agents to attack their members and scuttle their plans when some of them are tired? This is not true. They should look inwards for their recent losses and challenges.
“Did they register their SIMs in such a way that the telecoms firms will know who they are and tell security agencies?
“If they destroy masts and offices, how will they also communicate to carry out their acts? The fact is that in recent times, we have made some gains and they know how these gains affected them.”
“For those who are willing to leave and work for security, we have assured them of their confidentiality and safety.”