FG Issues NCC Ultimatum to Resolve Illegal Data Deduction

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Minister of Communications, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami

By Emma Okonji

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami has directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to resolve issues of illegal data deduction and review downwards, the price of data in the country within five days.

The minister gave the directive during the presentation of Barrister Adeleke Morofolu Adewolu, the new Board Member/Executive Commissioner by the Chairman of the Board of Commission at NCC, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye at the Ministry’s headquarters in Abuja recently.

He pointed out that there were numerous complaints from Nigerians regarding illegal data deduction and high price of data adding that he had personally experienced illegal data deduction.

He charged NCC to facilitate the penetration and expansion of 3G and 4G and urged the Commission to design a target on how mobile operators can expand penetration of 3G and 4G in the country.

Pantami stated that government was aware of the challenges the mobile operators experience in their business such as vandalism and issues of Right of Way (ROW).

According to him, “the way we pursue the mobile operators to do what is right, we should also work together to protect their interest and resolve the challenges operators face”.

Pantami said: “The main agenda of NCC is to protect the interest of customers and our priority is to protect Nigerians. It is our collective responsibility to make sure we give 100 per cent support to Mr. President to deliver his key mandate.”.

He charged the new Commissioner to use his experience and support the board to fight corruption, noting that the success of NCC and the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, remained the success of Nigeria.

The minister noted that the mandate of the Ministry has been expanded towards improving the economy of the country through ICT hence, there is a need to work together for the progress of Nigeria.

The minister commended the NCC on the success recorded in the deactivation of unregistered Sim cards, 35 per cent broadband penetration and operators’ compliance in payment of fines as well as remittance of the amount to the government.

Meanwhile, Paradigm Initiative (PIN), a social enterprise that builds ICT-enabled support systems and advocates for digital rights of under-served young Africans, has cautioned the Senate against passing what it described as oppressive legislations.

According to the advocacy group, a Bill titled “Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill 2019, was presented before the Senate for a first reading. CEO of PIN, Mr. Gbenga Sesan, in a statement that was made available to THISDAY, said: “As seen in the Senate Order Paper for 5th of November 2019, the Bill was sponsored by Sen. Musa, Mohammed Sani of the Niger East constituency. While we are not yet privy to the exact content of this Bill, we are aware that an Act with the same short title exists in Singapore, which seeks to prevent the electronic communication of false statements and to enable measures to be taken by the government with regard to that.

“We have sufficient cause to believe that this Bill contains elements that may affect the right to free expression of internet users in Nigeria and we intend to follow up on it as it goes through the legislative process and is officially gazetted. As always, it is our mandate as an organisation to remain aware of relevant developments in digital laws and policies and to advocate for the protection of human rights in the process.

“We are especially watchful in this period when Nigeria has positioned itself as a country supporting the development of the digital economy with the President’s recent renaming of the Ministry of Communications.”

Furthermore, the Program Manager at Paradigm Initiative, Boye Adegoke, said: “Just a few days ago, Nigeria initiated a process towards ensuring a better digital economy and it must not reprobate on this by considering laws that restrict and repress freedom in the digital space.

“We believe that for Nigeria to achieve the objective of building a strong digital economy, the digital space must remain open and emphasis should be placed on positively affirming and protecting the rights of internet users as opposed to restricting speech and expression.

“We therefore call on the Nigerian Senate and the National Assembly not to pursue such repressive legislation that will serve no good to Nigeria and Nigerians.”