By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria
The regulator of the telecoms sector, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has said the registration of subscriber identity modules (SIMs) in the country has drastically reduced the spate of criminal activities in the country.
Its Director, Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, who spoke on the sideline at the opening ceremony of this year’s edition of Securex Exhibition at Eko Hotel & Suites, said cases of people using their mobile phones to send threat messages, requests for ransom and extort people has stopped because they have realised that they can no longer could hide under the cover of anonymity provided them under the previous dispensation.
“As I speak to you now, all SIM cards in the country have been registered. No subscriber can use any SIM card without first registering it. So when people use their mobile phones to perpetrate criminal activities, they are sure to be apprehended by security agencies. This has been made possible through the SIM card registration exercise implemented by the NCC,” he said.
Earlier in his opening address, Its Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Dr Eugene Juwah expressed worries over the increasing sophistication of criminal activities in the country, arguing that while those in pursuit of high technology solutions are not relenting in efforts to break new grounds, criminals are also becoming more ingenuous in their attempt to run away from the long arm of the law.
Represented at the event by Director, Public Affairs of the NCC, Tony Ojobo, Juwah said this development had made it near-impossible to totally wipe out criminal acts from the earth’s surface, adding that even in developed countries, criminals continue to perpetrate their evil acts.
He said: “One of the most worrisome aspects of high tech crime is its dynamism and sophistication. While those in pursuit of high tech solutions are busy working hard to crack new dimensions, the perpetrators keep increasing their pace and sophistication escape justice. This is why it has become impossible to wipe away crimes and such activities and actions that pose threats to the security of our lives and properties. This is why even the most sophisticated parts of the world are not immune to the dangers posed in an unsecured society.”
He said as the regulator of the telecoms industry, the NCC will continue to collaborate with other relevant security agencies in the country ensure that the security of lives and properties are guaranteed for the wellbeing of all the people living in the country.
According to him, one practical step taken to curtail the spate of criminal activities perpetrated through the use of mobile phones was registration of all subscriber identity modules (SIMs) in the country.
He said: “The implementation of all SIM cards in the network to provide clear identity for telecom users is one clear step in this direction. It was our solution to the level of crimes associated with the use of phones. Ordinarily, phone services have been designed to provide solutions to our communications needs but criminals have capitalized on this to also dislocate the society. Our response to this security need included the provision of a foundation for verification of citizen identification which is needed for national planning and a secured nation.”
He said the commission had also responded to the increasing threats from the cyberspace through the establishment of the department of New Media and Information Security which is exploring the ways of protecting corporate and individual members of the society. According to him, the department has swung into action as it has collaborated with the relevant bodies with fruitful results. “The efforts of the NCC have led to the approval of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to establish a regional cybersecurity centre in Nigeria. This has many benefits to our efforts at securing our society from high-tech crimes,” Juwah said.
“On another level, the nation is advancing in the sophistication that abound in cyber space with application of laws that are germane to tackling high tech crimes associated with the ICT industry through the lawful intercept of suspicious and established criminally intended communications. These are all aimed at providing a more secured future for the nation and her citizens,” he added.