By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
The Federal Executive Council, FEC, Wednesday gave approval for the procurement of telecommunication equipment that will be used to detect and block fraudsters using different SIM cards.
The approval of the new regulatory system will help to support the country in addressing challenges of insecurity.
The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the virtual Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He explained that the deployment of the system would help to monitor, detect and block SIM and fight what he called voice traffic termination fraught.
According to him, “I am here to present two memos approved by the Federal Executive Council. And these two memos are to be implemented by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC.
“The first memo that has been approved by the Federal Executive Council is for the deployment of regulatory systems in the telecommunications industry, which is to be implemented by NCC.
“These regulatory systems have two components. Component number one is the deployment of a regulatory system to monitor, detect and block SIM box traffic. This is the first one and it is going to be implemented at the cost of N804,122,897.50 by NCC.
“This deployment of system to monitor, detect and block SIM is to fight what we call voice traffic termination fraught. What the two systems will do is to support our country in two major ways in addition to many others.
“Number one, it will support the country in addressing challenges of insecurity. Sometimes, you can receive a call, that call, you will see the number on the screen of your smartphone, It could be a local number, while the one calling you is using international number. So, they set up the number as a local number not international.
“Even if you report that, you will not be able to identify the personality easily. And the second one, you receive a call, and the network will show to you as an unknown number or a private number. While it is an important call that you need to investigate further about who actually calls you.
“And thirdly, this is in the area where someone can even clone a number. It is your personal number, but somebody will clone it and make a call with his phone, but bearing your own number, and you are not even aware of it. So, many people that plan to commit crime usually deploy one of these ways. And sometimes, if some people want to underpay tax, and other government entitlements, they usually support any process that will make an international call to appear as a local call.
“So, in summary, these two systems approved in a single memo will firstly significantly support our security institutions to the extent that any attempt to hide a number, or make it unknown or change the number, or make an international call to appear as a local call will immediately be addressed by the Nigerian Communications Commission on behalf of the federal government of Nigeria.
“And Mr. President has directed this system to be deployed, knowing that the security of our country is top priority, as in the constitution of Nigeria, Section 14, sub section 2, Article B, knowing that it is the main responsibility of government.
“He said that we can go to any extent ensure we sanitise all other sectors so that our security will be enhanced significantly.”
The minister also said, “And the second one in the same memo is the deployment of a regulatory system to monitor, detect, block and call masking traffic in the telecommunications industry.
“The first one is to block SIM box, SIM band, or SIM aggregator, which means the same thing, while the second one is to block call masking of the traffic. So, they are all forms of frauds that are being committed by criminals or people suspected to be criminals. And the second one is going to be deployed at the price of N1, 049,790,713.58.
“Secondly, as I said, it will also enhance revenue generation for our government, because any international number mostly will pay higher tax to government. But if it appears as a local number, government is going to be underpaid significantly.
“So, I believe that these two systems, number one, if leveraged by our security institutions, it will support them in securing our country. And number two, it will support the ministry of finance, and their parastatals to enhance revenue generation for the federal government of Nigeria. This is in summary about the first memo.
“While the second memo is another special intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. COVID-19 triggered so many challenges, and it compelled many of us to go online to the extent that most of our activities, either in the private or public sector are being conducted online.
“As part of the intervention of the current administration, the Nigerian Communications Commission has been directed to partake in policy implementation of what has been entitled as ADAPTI. ADAPTI means Advanced Digital Awareness Programme for Tertiary Institutions at the federal and state level.
“In this phase of President Buhari’s intervention, an approval has been granted to Nigeria Communications Commission today after deliberation in which 6000 e-pact mobile devices are going to be distributed to higher institutions all over the country.
“In the Northern part of the country, 2,400 are going to be distributed in the first phase. In the Southern part, 2,400 are going to be distributed. We have special allocation for Abuja and Lagos. Both of them are going to share 1,200. So, there are three slots. So, if you reconcile all, you will discover the total is 6000 facilities.
“This is to support social or physical distancing as the case may be, and also to encourage our institutions, particularly the tertiary ones to go online and begin to conduct lectures online. Students can submit assignments online. Hospitals can treat some requests online because it goes beyond only academic institution. Medical institutions are going to benefit from this at the federal or state level. And this is only part of 2021.
“It has been approved in the budget since 2021. But the process of implementation became difficult. And it is part of President Buhari’s intervention to make teaching, learning, and other things much easier for our citizens. These are the two memos.”