ATCON to FG: Implement Cybercrime Law to Check Destruction of Telecoms Facilities

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Emma Okonji

Worried about the wanton destruction of telecoms facilities, particularly masts and towers by hoodlums and the incessant closure of telecoms sites by some state governments, the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), has called on the federal government to expedite action in the implementation of the country’s cybercrime law, which seeks to protect telecoms infrastructure.

The National Executive Council (NEC) of ATCON, led by its President, Mr. Olusola Teniola, made the appeal when members of the organisation paid a courtesy visit to the Secretary to State Government (SSG) of Akwa Ibom State, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, recently.

Teniola said that available record has shown that base stations are shut down by either local governments or state governments without any prior notice to service providers and this usually accounts for poor quality of telecoms services in Nigeria.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), in collaboration with other stakeholders, has been working assiduously to put an end to this challenge.

Teniola said: “This is another challenge that has impeded the growth of the sector in the sense that some miscreants have turned it to their businesses to destroy telecoms masts and towers. The cybercrime law treats telecoms infrastructure as a critical national infrastructure in Nigeria but it is yet to be implemented.”

The ATCON NEC members also drew the attention of the Secretary to the State Government of Akwa Ibom State to broadband policy of the state, which they said, was necessary for the acceleration of telecoms infrastructure development of the state.

Commending Governor Emmanuel Udom for appointing Ekuwem as the new SSG of Akwa Ibom State, Teniola said it was a good choice, given the pedigree of Ekuwem, who served as President of ATCON some years ago.

“ATCON is fully aware that his appointment is based on his extraordinary pedigree as a thorough bred technocrat, professional and a promoter of human relations with sterling leadership quality. We are confident that he is more than equal to the task ahead of him,” ATCON NEC members told the members of Akwa Ibom State Cabinet present during the visit.

In his response, Ekuwem said he was very pleased to receive members of the ATCON NEC led by Teniola.

He however said as a technocrat, he understood the importance of telecommunications in the country, hence on assumption of duty as the new SSG to the Government of Akwa Ibom, he invited all the telecoms companies to find out their challenges. He explained that to his greatest surprise, the telecoms companies in the state said the state has been very cooperative and there had been no incidence of multiple taxation and no harassment from the state.

He further stated that the government of Akwa Ibom State knew the importance of broadband, as 10 per cent broadband penetration is equivalent to 1.3 per cent increase in GDP.

The state plans to connect all the local governments in the state through broadband and IPTVs are being installed in all government offices to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in the state, Ekuwem said.