By Onwuka Nzeshi
The House of Representatives yesterday faulted the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) over its handling of the N6.2 billion Subscribers Identification Module (SIM) card registration project.
It has therefore resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate the project, threatening that the House would not pass the budget of NCC until the agency provides satisfactory explanations on the utilisation of the fund appropriated for the cards registration in the 2011 budget.
The resolution followed a motion by Hon. Abdulrahman Terab, who expressed concern that telephone SIM cards were still sold in the streets around the country long after the NCC said the SIM registration had taken care of that situation.
Terab observed that SIM card registration was for security purposes and lamented that the essence of the N6.2 billion project may have been defeated if SIM cards continued to be sold freely in the streets across Nigeria.
“Criminals can take advantage of using registered SIM card to commit crime that can lead to wrongful arrest of innocent citizens by security agencies. It is worrisome that unregulated use of mobile phones has been aiding robberies, kidnapping, advanced fees fraud (419) and now even terrorism.”
Chairman, House Committee on Electoral Matters, Hon. Jerry Manwe (PDP/Taraba), said the inconsistency in the policy of the NCC was responsible for the continued sale of SIM cards in the streets and urged the House to summon the Commission to explain what happened to the project.
“NCC said they will deploy the machines to the nooks and crannies of this country but we have since found out that that was not the case, especially in the rural areas. “NCC has deceived Nigerians because we still have to go the office of the networks to register, you can hardly find NCC accredited registration firms and that is not what NCC promised us,” Manwe said.
Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa (ACN/Lagos), who also contributed to the debate, said experience had shown that the SIM registration might have been flawed given the inability of subscribers to access some records from registered cards through the service providers.
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