The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has urged the Inspector- General of Police, Solomon Arase, to arrest and prosecute persons and agents of states who resort to sealing base transceiver stations (BTS), vandalise optic fibre cables and others, arguing that such persons are contravening the laws of the country.
Its Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Prof Umar Danbatta, said these actions, aside being illegal, they violate Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, CAP C39, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. He said the resort to sealing of BTS also has its social implication which is that it cuts off subscribers from communicating.
Danbatta, who led a team of NCC officials on a courtesy visit to the IGP in Abuja, lamented that in spite of the critical role the telecoms industry is playing in the socio-economic transformation of people’s lives, some persons, including organisations, communities, agencies of the federal, state and local government at times using law enforcement officers, to seal BTS.
He said over the years, the telecoms sector has grown and now formed the super structure of modern lifestyle, social and economic practices, lamenting that unless something was done urgently, the fortunes of the country may be reversed.
“Virtually all the financial transactions, mobile money and mobile banking are made possible as a result of the infrastructure and platforms provided by the telecom industry; the vibrant social media industry that we are witnessing today is made possible by the platforms provided by the telecom industry. The telecom and ICT industry currently contributes about 10 per cent to the GDP (gross domestic product) of this country. It is, therefore, evident that telecoms impacts positively on our lives, our families, businesses, governance, security, and even our social lives, and even in our international relations,” he said.
“While we seek your support for urgent actualisation of this law; we wish to implore you to see to the use of the current provisions of the law to ensure that individuals found to be engaged in willful destruction of telecoms infrastructure are timely prosecuted,” Danbatta pleaded.
The NCC chief recalled that several arrests had been made over the past two years by a combined team of NCC officials and the police of people involved in either the use of pre-registered subscriber identity module (SIM) cards or those perpetrating other criminal acts through the telecoms infrastructure, lamenting that most of the cases were either thrown out for lack of proper investigation or lack of diligent prosecution.
Arase lauded the role of telecoms in tackling national security challenges, such as kidnapping, an area where the role of GSM has been pronounced.
While expressing the readiness of the Police to work with the Commission, he proposed the setting up of a special team drawn from the Police and the Commission to handle telecom-related cases.
Both agencies of the government pledged to collaborate on issues concerning security of telecoms infrastructure and capacity build