BY JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU & JOSEPH ERUNKE
ABUJA— Efforts by security agencies at fighting terrorism in the country through intercepting GSM communication, received Senate’s blessing, yesterday, when it overwhelmingly supported a bill aimed at empowering security agencies to intercept that regard.

The bill is entitled A Bill for an Act to Provide for Interception, Development and Protection of Communications Networks and Facilities for Public Interest and Other Related Matters 2013.

senate-wiretap

Sponsored by Senator Isa Galaudu, PDP, Kebbi North, it seeks to give legal backing to relevant national chief security officers, national security agency, Department of State Services and Police to intercept communications considered prejudicial to national security or public interest.

The bill, which passed second reading in the upper legislative chamber,was referred to the Senate committees on Communication, Judiciary and National Security for further legislative input.

Earlier in his lead debate to support his bill, Senator Galaudu said if passed, the bill would facilitate the role of security agencies in tracking terrorism or crime against national security or human dignity, using, communication or telecommunication services.

He said the bill also seeks to prohibit the manufacturing, assembling, processing, selling, purchasing or advertising of certain equipment illegally used as interception devices and also protect the interest of communication users through the prohibition of interception and provide circumstances under which interception may be permitted for public interest

Galaudu said: “It is, however, pertinent to note that the bill strengthens the terrorism prevention act, which empowers the Attorney-General of the Federation, National Security Adviser or Inspector-General of Police to aquire information relating to terrorist groups and terrorist acts and conduct investigations or search with or without warrant to prevent or establish a crime of terrorism.”

Expressing fears about the abuse of the bill, Senator Atai Ali said this would be an opportunity for government to witch-hunt the opposition without court order and the bill portends some sort of danger.

He insisted that the bill was ambiguous, hence should be streamlined, saying anti-establishments may become targets of the bill.

Also contributing, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, advised that usual times and usual methods should be used to tackle the problems

He said: “The security and protection of our citizens is paramount. This is the major aspect of the bill.

“It is also important to stop people using devices to intercept people ‘s calls. I think with this bill punishment will be prescribed for those who intercept calls illegally.”

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