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 Communication and Digital Economy, 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.
Mr Pantami added that the more than 12 million users that had dropped were mostly criminals that could not come out to regularise their numbers.