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FEC approves N1.8bn for regulatory systems to checkmate criminals in telecoms sector

Elumelu, Pantami

*Okays N965.9m for NCoS to purchase 49 vehicles

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved N1.8 billion for the deployment of regulatory systems in the Nigerian Telecommunications industry to tackle criminal activities.

Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, told State House correspondents in Abuja that it was the outcome of the cabinet meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to him, the system will assist the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to monitor, detect and block SIM box traffic being used for dubious or suspicious transactions.

He explained that the system would fight voice traffic termination fraud and enhance revenue generation by government as the use of any international number would always attract higher taxes.

“The first memo that was approved by FEC is for the deployment of regulatory systems in the telecommunications industry to be implemented by the NCC.

“The system has two components; number one is the deployment of a regulatory system to monitor, detect and block SIM box traffic.

“It is going to be implemented at the cost of N804.12 million by the NCC.

“This deployment is to fight what is called voice traffic termination fraud.

“The system will support our country in two major ways of addressing challenges of insecurity.

“Sometimes, you will receive a call with a local number that is (dubiously) set up as an international number; sometimes, a call can come in but the number will not show.

“Sometimes, you will receive a call with a cloned number so you need to investigate further to know who actually made the call.

“So, using these systems, the NCC will be able to immediately address such criminal tendencies on behalf of the Nigerian government.

“The second one in the same memo is the deployment of a regulatory system to monitor, detect, block, and call masking traffic at the cost of N1.05 billion.

“They are all forms of fraud committed by criminals.

“This will enhance revenue generation by our government because the use of any international number will attract higher tax but if it appears as a local number, government would be short-changed,’’ he said.

According to the minister, the president has already approved the deployment of the systems to enhance the security of all citizens, especially mobile phone users.

He said also that FEC approved the distribution of 6,000 e-pad mobile devices by the NCC to tertiary institutions across the country.

“In this phase of President Buhari’s intervention, an approval has been granted to the NCC at today’s cabinet meeting to distribute 6,000 e-pad mobile devices to institutions of higher learning.

“In the northern parts of the country, 2400 of such devices will be distributed; the same number for the southern parts.

“A special allocation will be made for Abuja and Lagos where both of them will share the remaining 120 units of devices.’’ he added.

The minister also described the recent drop in the number of internet users in the country as a blessing in disguise.

He attributed the drop to government’s insistence on the use of National Identification Number to register new subscribers.

Pantami added that the more than 12 million users that had dropped were mostly criminals that could not come out to regularise their numbers.

Also, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved the sum of N965.9 million for the purchase of 49 operational vehicles to enhance the services of the Nigerian Correctional Service.

The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, stated this when he briefed State House correspondents at the end of the Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday in Abuja.

According to him, the vehicles to be sourced locally will complement the ones already in use by the Correctional Service.

He said: “The Nigerian Correctional Service through the Ministry of Interior presented a memo to council and obtained approval to spend the sum of N965, 902, 524.58 to procure 49 operational and Green Maria vehicles.

“These 49 vehicles will complement the 513 operational and Green Maria vehicles already purchased between 2016 and 2020.

“This does not in any way mean that we have met the vehicle needs of the Nigerian Correctional Service.’’

The minister noted that since the advent of the Buhari administration, concerted effort and commitment had been made to ensure that the Correctional Service was provided with operational tools to meet its mandate of keeping the facilities safe.

He added that necessary logistic support meant to move inmates from the facilities to the over 5022 courts scattered all over Nigeria were also being provided by the government.

Mr. Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, who also spoke on the outcome of the meeting, said the council approved N145 million for the procurement of an office accommodation for the Federal Character Commission in Bayelsa State.

He also announced the approval of N136.2 million by the Council for the procurement of operational vehicles for the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA).

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed, also disclosed that the Council ratified the Finance Bill 2021 for 2022 fiscal year.

She stated that already the bill had been transmitted to both Houses of the National Assembly by the president for their approval.

“Today, the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning presented to Council for Council’s ratification the Finance Bill 2021 for the 2022 fiscal year.

“I’m sure you would have all noted that this bill has already been transmitted by the president to the National Assembly and both houses have already started working on the bill.

“So, this draft bill was prepared by the Fiscal Policy Committee and it focused on tax and reviewing some fiscal laws and also amending some, and these laws are about 11 in number,’’ she said.

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Ihesiulo Grace

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