TECHNOLOGY

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

*Okay N965.9m for NCoS to buy 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 activity.

Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, told correspondents from the Abuja State House that this was the result of the cabinet meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.

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

He explained that the system would fight voice termination fraud and improve government revenue generation, as using an international number would always entail higher taxes.

“The first memo approved by FEC concerns the implementation 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 will be implemented at the cost of N804.12 million by the NCC.

“This deployment is intended to combat so-called voice termination fraud.

“The system will support our country in two key ways to address the challenges of insecurity.

“Sometimes you get a call from a local number that is (dubious) set as an international number; sometimes a call can come in but the number is not displayed.

“Sometimes you get a call with a cloned number, so you have to investigate further to know who made the call.

“So with the help of these systems, the NCC can immediately address such criminal tendencies on behalf of the Nigerian government.

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

“They are all forms of fraud committed by criminals.

“This will increase our government’s revenue generation as using an international number will generate higher taxes, but if it appears as a local number, the government would fall short,” he said.

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

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

“At this stage of President Buhari’s intervention, today’s cabinet meeting approved the NCC to distribute 6,000 mobile e-pad devices to higher education institutions.

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

“A special allocation will be made for Abuja and Lagos, where they will both share the remaining 120 devices.” he added.

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

He attributed the decline to the government’s insistence on using the national identification number to register new subscribers.

Pantami added that the more than 12 million users who had been dropped were mostly criminals who were unable to come out to regularize their numbers.

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

Interior Minister Rauf Aregbesola stated this when he informed the correspondents of the State House at the end of the Council meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on Wednesday.

According to him, the vehicles purchased locally will complement those already used by the correctional service.

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

“These 49 vehicles are in addition to the 513 operational and Green Maria vehicles already purchased between 2016 and 2020.

“This in no way means that we have met the vehicle needs of the Nigerian Correctional Service.”

The minister noted that since the arrival of the Buhari government, there has been a concerted effort and commitment to ensure the correctional service is equipped with operational tools to fulfill its mandate to keep the facilities safe.

He added that the government also provided the necessary logistical support to transfer detainees from the facilities to the more than 5,022 courts across Nigeria.

Femi Adesina, the president’s special counsel for media and publicity, who also spoke about the outcome of the meeting, said the council has approved N145 million to purchase an office space for the Federal Character Commission in Bayelsa state.

He also announced the Council’s approval of N136.2 million 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 announced that the Council has ratified the 2021 Financing Act for fiscal year 2022.

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

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

“I’m sure all of you would have noticed that this bill has already been sent to the National Assembly by the President and both houses have already started working on the bill.

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

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