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How renewed KAROTA fury hurts Kano road users

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By Mukhtar Yahya Usman

On 8 September, 2019, just like any ordinary day, Yusuf Baba had left his pregnant wife and five children at home.

As he rode on his motorcycle on his way to the Kano Sports Commission along Club Road in Nasarawa local government area of Kano state, where he served as a weightlifting coach, it never crossed his mind that it was his last day on earth.

Mr Baba was just a few meters to his destination when, without warning, a dark blue Volkswagen saloon car, swerved to his side of the road on top speed and crushed him to death.

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An eyewitness told Kano Focus that the commercial vehicle, with registration number KTG 174 AA, had the accident due to a nasty struggle for control of its steering wheel between its driver and a personnel of the Kano Road Traffic Agency (KAROTA), who was determined to stop the driver from fleeing.

This was how Mr Baba’s wife, Zainab was widowed and his five children orphaned in one of the several reckless confrontations between overzealous KAROTA officers and road users that often disregard traffic rules.

It was one death too many for the family as Mr Baba left behind a mentally disabled son, Umar, who relied totally on his father for his monthly follow up at a psychiatric hospital in Kano, where he receives expensive medications.

In addition, Zainab’s unborn child has also been deprived of its father.

Both the KAROTA officer and the driver of the Golf car were subsequently arrested and detained by the Kano Police Command.

About a week earlier, some KAROTA officials had also flagged down a trailer truck at Ibrahim Taiwo Road by Bello Road roundabout and attempted to arrest the driver on a charge of unlawfully using additional headlamps.

It was learnt that the KAROTA personnel ordered the driver, Kabiru Muhammad to park but before he could comply, one of them reportedly requested to drive the truck, a demand the driver refused.

Truck driver Kabiru Muhammad covered in blood

Without warning, the angry traffic official insulted Mr Muhammad just as another hit him on the head with a stick, causing him a serious injury from which blood gushed out and covered his face and clothing.

In protest at the maltreatment of their colleague, other truck drivers turned off their engines in the middle of the road, causing a massive traffic gridlock that was only cleared after the arrival of police operatives who arrested the errant KAROTA officials.

Truck drivers protest the assault on their colleague Kabiru Muhamma by KAROTA

On August 15, 2019, a magistrate court sentenced a KAROTA official to jail after he was found guilty of hitting one Hassan Zamzam with a stick in the leg and inflicting a fracture on him.

The victim was attacked by the angry KAROTA officer for allegedly beating traffic.

Kano Focus reports that the air waves in Kano are replete with complaints on excesses of KAROTA officers on the roads, especially their act of carrying sticks which they routinely use to smash heads and windshields of motorists, tricycle riders and other vehicle owners who dared to cross paths with them.

The renewed vigour of KAROTA officials in assaulting motorists manifested since the appointment of the agency’s new Managing Director, Bappa Babba DanAgundi, a former lawmaker at the Kano state House of Assembly, who failed in his re-election bid during the 2019 general elections.

It was under Mr DanAgundi’s leadership that KAROTA operatives started using sticks that are painted in the yellow and black colours of the agency to assault motorists and other road users who violate traffic rules.

Commercial drivers often complain of being extorted and forced to pay exorbitant fines, which are higher than those charged by any of the federal agencies that supervise road safety.

A KAROTA personnel trying to arrest a truck driver

As a result, many commercial motorists have stopped transporting traders to Kano, causing a sharp decline in commerce and trade, a situation that threatens the economic prosperity of the state.

Since it was established in 2014 by former Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, KAROTA has been a fiery traffic outfit that attracts anger and hatred due to its persistent clashes with motorists in the course of enforcing traffic rules.

Even though it has succeeded in restoring sanity and instilling discipline in Kano’s erstwhile lawless motorists, recently, the agency has been accused of contradicting its own motto: “Sanity and Safety” by chasing moving vehicles to the point of causing accidents and in some cases leading to serious injuries or outright loss of lives.

Observers have also pointed out that while KAROTA is harsh on poor and weak road users especially commercial vehicle owners who are struggling to make ends meet, they often fail to punish powerful politicians and security agencies who move in convoys and break traffic rules with impunity.

“This leaves us with no option that to believe that the rules are meant to punish only the weak and the poor and also serve as a means of extorting and further impoverishing them, while allowing the rich and powerful to do as they please,” a driver Garba Adamu told our correspondent.

“The government should overhaul KAROTA in order to make them more humane in their operations,” he added.

However, in his reaction, the KAROTA Managing director Bappa Babban Danagundi has explained why personnel of the agency carry sticks on the roads while controlling traffic in Kano city.

Dan-Agundi said KAROTA officers are using sticks to protect themselves from attacks by angry motorists and other road users who are not happy with how the traffic officials conduct their duty.

He said many KAROTA personnel have been attacked by errant motorists, adding that some of them are still in hospital with fractures and other serious injuries.

Although Dr. Dan-Agundi admitted that using weapons is against the laws of KAROTA, he however, pointed that the Nigerian Constitution has given citizens the right to defend themselves from harm including government officials.

He also said that apart from restoring sanity on Kano roads, KAROTA officials have been commended by security agencies for arresting a fake soldier and handing him over to the appropriate authority for prosecution.

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NCC clears doubts over 5G, COVID-19 and security

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Nasiru Yusuf

The National Communication Commission says there is no correlation between 5G Technology and COVID-19.

The commission said the 5G is an advancement on today’s 4G technology, designed to transform the world positively.

A statement sent to Kano Focus on Sunday by Director, Public Affairs Nigerian Communications Commission Henry Nkemadu, said there is no deployment of 5G in Nigeria at the moment. The NCC, back in November 2019, approved trial test for 5G for a period of three months, and the trial has been concluded and installation decommissioned.

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According to the statement the trial, was to study and observe any health or security challenges the 5G network might present. Relevant stakeholders, including members of the security agencies, were invited to participate during the trial.

The statement said the NCC will continue to maintain its policy of technology neutrality and will continue to encourage Service Providers to deploy the best technology that will meet the needs of the society in a secured and friendly manner.

The following are some Frequently Asked Questions :

1. What is 5G ?

Ans: 5G is a fifth generation of mobile technology which is an improvement on today’s 4G technology with enhanced capabilities. The 5G technology provides the platform for new and emerging technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data to improve the way we live and work.

2. Do we have 5G network in Nigeria now?

Ans: No. There is no 5G network in Nigeria at the moment. What we had was a trial test for 3 months which has since been concluded.

3. When are we expecting 5G in Nigeria?

Ans. No exact time frame but when conditions are right and all doubts are cleared.

4. Do we have spectrum for 5G in Nigeria?

Ans. Yes, particularly the millimetre wave spectrum from 24GHz and above are available.

5. Have we given out 5G spectrum to operators?

Ans. No. It will be auctioned at the appropriate time.

6. Are there 5G deployment around the world?

Ans. Yes, in countries like South Korea, China, USA, Germany and others since middle of 2019.

7. Is the radiation from 5G different from those of 2G, 3G and 4G?

Ans. No, they all belong to the same class of non-ionizing radiation.

8. Who is going to Allocate spectrum for 5G in Nigeria?

Ans. The National Frequency Management Council (NFMC) Chaired by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy has the responsibility for allocating bulk spectrum for various services.

9. Should I be concerned about 5G technology?

Ans. No, nothing to worry about. Safety and human health are top priority in the design and deployment of 5G.

10. What are the benefits of 5G ?

Ans. 5G technology will transform the world by connecting everything with everybody. It will create millions of jobs, it will add billions of dollars to the economy (GDP), and can solve some of our problems such as insecurity and improve governance and efficiency in the society.

11. Is 5G causing CORONAVIRUS or COVID-19?

Ans. No, there is no link whatsoever between 5G and CORONAVIRUS or COVID-19.

12. Should I ignore all the negative narratives I am hearing about 5G ?

Ans. No, but rely on information from world standards making bodies such as WHO, ITU, IEEE and industry experts for advice when in doubt.

13. Is there standard limit set for Radiation from mobile devices?

Ans. Yes, there is radiation emission limits set by the International Commission for Non-ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) below which the radiation is considered safe for humans.

14. Are the mobile network operators in Nigeria conforming to the Radiation emissions limits?

Ans. Yes, the NCC has been regularly conducting measurements of radiation emissions from base stations across the country and they are all well below the set limits.

15. Is 5G same as fibre cable?

Ans. No, fibre cable is a terrestrial technology for broadband that existed for decades while 5G is a new mobile technology for enhanced quality of service as explained in Question 1 above.

16. Are there other sources of radiation apart from mobile base stations?

Ans. Yes, there are other sources of radiation which include television stations, radio broadcast stations, wifi and so on. They all belong to the class of radiation considered to be safe for humans when operated below the set limits.

17. Who owns 5G?

Ans. 5G is not owned by anybody but collection of technologies, standards and processes agreed at the international level by standards-making bodies.

18. Has NCC issued licenses for 5G in Nigeria?

Ans. No, NCC has not issued any licence for 5G in Nigeria. NCC is technology-neutral as such we don’t license technology but assigns spectrum to operators for deployment of any service when allocated by NFMC.

19. Why are some operators rolling out fibre during the lockdown period?

Ans. As a result of the lockdown, the amount of voice and data usage has increased by huge amounts and there is need to expand the network to provide optimum quality of service to users sitting at home. Telecom is also critical for information dissemination during the lockdown.

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Opinion: Kano’s shoddy border closure: A personal experience

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By Rauf Musa

I took a very important trip to Kano on Saturday, April 4, 2020 and in the course of this trip I observed some anomalies in the way security and health officials implement the movement restriction directive issued by the Kano state government, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Despite all the media hype Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje created last week, when he was captured on video turning back a truckload of travelers coming into Kano, the state remains largely insecure and porous.

It seems that Kariya village, about 75 kilometers to the entry point to Kano state, is the only point where travelers coming from Kaduna axis are stopped for checks, just before Kwanar Dangora.

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On that particular spot are personnel of the police, Civil defence, Kano Road Traffic Agency (KAROTA) and some health workers. The place was very chaotic and disorganized.

Even though these agents are doing their best to do their jobs, nothing suggests that travelers could not come into Kano.

Drivers of commercial vehicles simply drop their passengers before reaching the check point, where motorcycle riders are readily waiting to pick them and cross the checkpoint with them.

Thereafter, the travelers would simply rejoin their respective vehicles and proceed with their trip right into the heart of the city, with brazen impunity.

At the checkpoint, I noticed only ONE health worker, who appeared to be overwhelmed and confused as he tried to check the body temperature of a horde of travelers.

As for drivers of trailers and articulated vehicles, they pass freely without undergoing any checks!  These vehicles mostly carry non-essential items such as building materials.

The entire scene depicts total derailment from what was intended to be achieved.

From that village, travelers continue their movement freely into Kano without any other checkpoint. It was business as usual.

Even though, to this moment, there was no recorded outbreak of the COVID-19 in our dear state, but there is absence of vigorous campaign in the media on the looming danger in our horizon.

Our people need rigorous sensitisation and awareness on COVID 19 pandemic, at least on basic precautions.

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NCC alerts Nigerians on fake website advertising fraudulent internet claims

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Nasiru Yusuf

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has caution telecoms consumers on the fraudulent message being spread on the internet by a fraudulent website.

A statement issued by the Deputy Manager Online Media and Special Publication, NCC, Kunle Azeez said the fake website (https://covid-19-fg-grant.blogspot.com/?=1) is asking Nigerian citizens to apply for a free internet bundle ostensibly being given by the Nigerian government in collaboration with NCC.

“Nigerian government, in collaboration with NCC, is offering all Nigerian citizens up to 20GB of data to stay at home and get up-to-date information in a bid to counter the spread of COVID-19. All Nigeria citizens are entitled to free Internet connection to stay at home safely and enjoy the Internet in a bid to control the spread of COVID-19. The free Internet package is available to everyone starting from Friday, 27th March, 2020,” the deceptive website claims in its message.

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“The website suspiciously asks Nigerians to apply for the free Internet by clicking a web link, which automatically takes them to a webpage with a dialogue box where they are expected to fill in their bio data and other demographics.

The NCC stated that neither the Nigerian government nor the Commission has issued such a message to Nigerian citizens.

The Commission strongly advised Nigerians and all telecom consumers to beware of this fraudulent, false and spurious claim. The general public should discountenance the falsehood which has gained traction by the rise in tempo of its circulation.

The NCC cautioned that the message should be disregarded in its entirety as the said website is a sham and a total deception to dupe Nigerians of their hard-earned money, and to harness personal data for fraudulent purposes.

Consistent with the consumer-centric policy of NCC, the Commission wishes to sensitise Nigerians to the antics of cyber criminals, who will want to take advantage of this challenging period of a rampaging pandemic, and the stay-at-home directive of the government to scam telecom consumers and the general public.

The NCC, therefore, uses this opportunity to reiterate its commitment towards deepening access to telecoms services and its dedication to strengthening the protective measures it has instituted to safeguard the rights of over 128 million internet users across mobile networks in Nigeria.

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