By OBINNA EZUGWU
Nigeria’s Federal Government has come out to deny issuing license for the installation of Fifth Generation Mobile Networks (5G) in the country, amid conspiracy theories that it had begun installation of the network which according the theorists, is responsible for the growing spread of Coronavirus pandemic in the country.
Already, about 210 people have been infected by the virus which first broke out in China in December 2019, while four people have died. Globally, about 1.5 million people have been infected, with about 60,000 killed.
A few days ago, speculations emerged that the virus was caused by the installation of 5G network, said to have originated from China, and that the countries being afflicted by it are those whose governments have adopted the network.
A certain viral video showing supposed Chinese nationals destroying what is said to be a 5G mast is circulating among many in the country. The believe being that the destruction of such masts in the Asian nation is responsible for the reduction in the spread of the virus there.
To further drive home the point, a November 2019 report by LaTechEconomy.ng to the effect that Nigeria had become the first country in West Africa to trial launch 5G network resurfaced and is being widely shared.
According to the report, Telecom giant, MTN Nigeria announced that the country had become the first the sub-region to adopt the technology following collaboration between the Ministry of Communications Technology and Digital Economy, the Nigerian Communications Commission, MTN and Huawei (Abuja), ZTE (Calabar) and Ericsson (Lagos.).
Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, was quoted to have said after a tour of the exhibition booths that, “I believe as long as we are able to handle the potential challenges, the deployment of 5G is very critical to our economy, because of so many advantages of 5G, the issue of latency, speed and many more.”
However, following the mounting speculations about the network and Coronavirus, Dr. Pantami came out with a statement on Saturday, clarifying that while the country had a trial of the network in November last year, it is untrue that it issued 5G licence.
“The attention of my office has been drawn to the public concern about the health implications of the deployment of Fifth Generation Mobile Networks (5G) in Nigeria. Based on available records at my office and the earlier report received from the regulator, I would like to clarify as follows:
“i. The National Frequency Management Council (NFMC), of which I am the Chairman, has not deliberated on or released any bulk frequency spectrum for the deployment of 5G;
“ii. No license has been issued for the deployment of 5G in the country;
“iii. A 3-month study trial commenced on the 25th of November, 2019 in order to critically review and study the health and security implications of deploying 5G in Nigeria;
“iv. As part of the study trial process, I directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to ensure that a team of experts, security agencies and other stakeholders fully participate in the trial process and my office also invited these agencies to participate in the trial; and
“v. The trial process has been concluded and the study and reporting process is currently ongoing.
“His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, places a premium on the welfare, health and security of Nigerians. As such, our desire for technological advancement will never be at the expense of the health and welfare of our citizens.
“Government will not act on the speculations only, but rather we will take an informed decision on 5G after due consultation with experts and the public. I have also directed the NCC to engage citizens on any questions or concerns they may have regarding 5G.
“I wish to thank the general public for reaching out to us on this issue. We advise you all to remain rest assured that government will always take the welfare, health and security of the public into account while considering the deployment of any technology,” Pantami said.
Elsewhere in the globe, the theory is gaining momentum. Across the United Kingdom, people are said to be burning cellphone masts and abusing engineers, while there were also rumours of 5G protests in Germany.
But the apparently baseless theory has been debunked. Full Fact, UK’s independent fact-checking nonprofit debunked the myth that there is link between the 5G network in Wuhan, where the coronavirus broke out, and the disease.
“The main implication of the claim that 5G can impact immune systems is totally unfounded. There is no evidence linking the new coronavirus to 5G,” Full Fact said
UK media outlets have also been told not to promote “baseless 5G coronavirus theories”.