Says, it reduced kidnapping, banditry in 2019/2020

‘Why it takes time to track kidnappers’

Nigeria begins production of Sim Cards, Smartphones

By Omeiza Ajayi – Abuja

In the wake of increasing violence in some parts of the country, the Federal Government has declared that security remains its utmost priority, saying in the face of current existential realities, consideration for national security trumps economic interests.

Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami disclosed this on Thursday at a parley organized by the All Progressives Congress APC Professionals Forum which held at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja.

This was as government boasted of its capacity to not only meet Nigerian’s need for the Subscriber Identification Module SIM Cards, but said it is in good stead to produce such cards for phone users across the African continent and that it has also ventured into the production of Smartphones

He said; “In the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, security is not our mandate but when we discovered, and since we have been appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari and security is part of his priority areas, then we must support all the priority areas in the course of duty.

READ ALSO: Breaking: Bad leadership has destroyed Nigeria, ‘land flowing with milk and honey’ – Obasanjo

“This is why we always say security is even more important than economic development because based on the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, Section 14(2)(B), says security and welfare of the people is the primary responsibility of government. It is because of this we have made it clear to stakeholders in the sector that when there is a clash of interest between security and economic development, then our priority and preference is that security, not economic development.

“Security cannot be ignored. Security cannot be compromised because of economic development. It should be our priority and preference. We have come up with several policies in order to support security institutions. One, when I was appointed, unregistered SIMS, partially or pre-registered SIMS were being used in perpetrating and perpetuating crimes in the country. Nobody knew even the total number of unregistered SIMS. Within less than 15 days in office, we engaged the Nigerian Communication Commission NCC as a regulator and directed them to carry out an audit and come up with unregistered and partially registered SIMS. They came came up with around 9.4 million which is about or more than the population of some countries.

“It was the first time we even knew the number of unregistered or partially registered SIMS”.

Reduced kidnapping, banditry Pantami added that his innovations in the ministry had in late 2019 and early 2020 led to a drastic reduction in kidnapping and banditry.

While he conceded that criminals often try to circumvent official safeguards, the minister assured that the federal government will continue to evolve more safety measures to protect Nigerians from criminals.

“Go through history, go through the news. From the end of September 2019 up to February 2020, you would discover that even kidnapping and banditry reduced to the barest minimum. It was the time that you could spend one month or more without hearing anything kidnapping.

“The more you come up with policies to make the system effective, the more criminals will come up with strategies to compromise the policy. So, it was because of this they came up with another approach where they use or engage agents, registering SIMS in Nigeria. These agents are not employees of the federal government. Some of them compromised the process to the extent that they used to invite somebody, give him certain amount of money and say we will use your biometrics to register some SIMS. Then they go online and find any image they see, fill it as a passport, use biometrics of one person to register 100 SIMS.

“So, criminals exploited that. They were buying pre-registered SIMS. Then the federal government came up with the NIN-SIM linkage so that somebody will not be able to use your biometrics to register another SIM and use it to commit crime. So, if you are innocent, you have no problem presenting your biometrics to the federal government. If you need mine, I can give you. But usually, criminals will not like to present their biometrics because it is the easiest way for them to commit crime”.

SIM, Phone production Pantami also disclosed that Nigeria currently produces a minimum of 200 million SIM cards and that the country has also begun manufacturing smartphones.

He said; “We came up with a policy that we wanted Nigeria to in the next two to three years, that a minimum of 60 to 70 percent of what we need in the telecommunications sector, that they are going to be produced locally. We have started it.

“When this administration came on board, even SIM cards were imported to Nigeria but as it is today, the federal government has provided an enabling environment for the private sector and as it is today, we have the capacity to produce SIM cards not only for our consumption but for the entire African continent.

“We have the capacity to produce a minimum of 200 million SIMS annually. We have provided an enabling environment for the private sector to start the production of smartphones. Today in Nigeria, we are producing smartphones”, he stated.

Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission NCC, Prof. Umar Dambatta who explained that every SIM card has the biometric and demographic data of the owner, said criminals are now finding it difficult to register their SIMS because they know they would be found out if they commit any crime.

According to him, it takes sometime to track kidnappers as they hardly use their own phones for negotiation of ransoms, but would instead use those of their victims.

“When they do that, if we check the SIM card, it is the data of the victims that will come up. However, once they use the phones to make calls, we have the capacity to track with precision where such calls emanate from”, he stated.

National Secretary, APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe said those who are hyping insecurity and working to bring down the Buhari administration will not succeed and that at the appropriate time, they will be tracked and dealt with.

According to him, the disbandment of the Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad SARS has left a vacuum in policing, attributing the growing wave of insecurity in the country to such gap.

He said; “In the social media, a lot of educated young people were misled into believing that SARS was an evil organization inside the police and today we are having pockets of insecurity everywhere because the effects of SARS has really weakened the morale of the Police.

“There are some bad eggs in the Police but we must also understand that the police has a system within its organization, to try and dismiss and convict any misbehaved Police officer just as we have in the Army and the Navy.

“And we use this medium to plead to the police to reorganize itself, restrategise itself and reenergise itself and come to defend Nigerians not minding what happened. I want to use this medium to plead passionately to the new IG of Police to bring back the spirit of effective policing”.

Akpanudoedehe also asked for an efficient reward system for party members, urging appointees of the APC-led federal government to endeavour to carry party members along in discharging their mandates.

Earlier, National Coordinator, APC Professionals Forum, Akeem Akintayo said midway into the life of the Buhari presidency, it has become imperative to give its scorecard to Nigerians.

“Nigerians voted for our party as a better alternative to PDP in 2015 and 2019 because of the change and accountability needed in government and party management. It is for this reason we have differences between us and the PDP.

“It is on this note that, we as a responsible party and government should be asking ourselves how far we have gone in policy formulation and implementation in line with the manifesto, and our promise to Nigerians. It is midway into the second term of President Muhammadu Buhari and we believe that this is the best time to reel out outstanding achievements and performances that will ease our campaigns and messaging towards the 2023 general elections”, said Akintayo.

The event was attended by the Senior Special Assistant SSA Media and Publicity to the President, Mallam Garba Shehu, heads of agencies in the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, representatives of the Buhari Media Administration BMO and other party stalwarts.

Vanguard News Nigeria


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.