By Francis Sardauna in Katsina
Worried by the spate of insecurity in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on Monday launched a 112 toll-free emergency number and commissioned an Emergency Communications Centre (ECC) in Katsina State to enhance security.
Speaking while launching the toll-free number, President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigerians in distress situations need emergency interventions that would avert difficulties in terms of security impediments.
The president, represented by the Minister of Communications, Mr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, added that many people need emergency interventions but has been cumbersome for them to have Information and Communication Technology (ICT) power channel that would enable them to seek for such services.
Buhari said: “This is why this project is very strategic. It allows you to use your mobile phone to reach out to ECC and they will link you up with relevant institutions that would come and intervene and safe your own situation.”
He, however, said the project has been in the pipeline for many years but could not be accomplished, “but we are glad that it is within our time that this project is being executed to conclusion. Not only execution but we make sure that we put it into use”.
Earlier, the Chairman, Governing Board of Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, said the 112 toll-free number was designated as the universal safety and emergency assistance number that would enhance public safety of Nigerians.
According to him, “Nigerians can now access help from any Response Agency such as the police, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Fire and Ambulance Services by simply dialing a toll free number 112 from any network.
“The ECC are specially designed to answer all 112 emergency calls and to direct each call to the appropriate Response Agency closest to the caller.”
He said the three-digit number would help to provide timely information to relevant agencies for the prevention of crime, rescue distressed persons, mitigate and possibly prevent disasters.
In his remarks, the Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, said one of the major challenges bedevilling the state is the security of lives and property of the citizenry.
He added that banditry, kidnapping and cattle rustling had smashed the inhabitants of the state, particularly those in the eight frontline local government areas of Sabuwa, Jibia, Batsari, Danmusa, Kankara, Safana, Dandume and Faskari.
Masari represented by his Deputy, Alhaji Mannir Yakubu, however, said the peace deal initiated by his administration has reduced the spate of banditry and kidnapping, adding that 61 captives had so far regained their freedom from the abductors.
He added: “The emergency calls to the appropriate response agency close to the distress caller will provide easy, effective and coordinated access to members of the public to the response agencies such as the police, Federal Road Safety Corps, Fire Service and Ambulance Service.”