The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has described as misleading and inaccurate reports that it is developing a regulation to disqualify Nigerians below 18 years of age from getting Subscriber Identity Module (SIM).
Reports had emerged on Tuesday claiming that Nigerian citizens below the age of 18 would not be allowed to own SIM card.
According to the draft copy of the modified registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations purportedly released by the NCC, only subscribers above the age of 18 are entitled to SIMs. The commission was reported to have said the new regulation was in line with the powers conferred upon the commission by section 70 of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003.
Reacting to the report in a statement sent to Naija News on Thursday, NCC spokesperson, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, described the report as a deliberate misinformation and mischaracterisation of the proceedings of the Public Inquiry on the Reviewed/Draft Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations, which took place on Tuesday, October 6, 2021.
He stated that the NCC considers it necessary to set the record straight for the purpose of serving existing and potential telecom subscribers , investors and other stakeholders in the industry accurate information for making informed decisions.
Adinde said: “In accordance with sections 70 and 71 of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003 and the Commission’s consultative engagement process, which define its rule-making process, the public inquiry was held for all relevant stakeholders to provide input on the draft regulatory instrument.
“The age of 18 years for SIM acquisition proposed in the draft regulation is contingent on the constitutional provision, which makes 18 years the age of consent in Nigeria. Also, SIM acquisition is a contract between service providers and their subscribers, which requires the subscriber to have proper legal status, be of matured mind and rational enough to bear certain responsibilities, obligations and liabilities imposed by a contract.
“The proposal is, therefore, to protect minors. Parents and guardians can acquire SIMs in their names on behalf of their children and wards in which case they assume whatever responsibilities or liabilities that arise from the usage of such SIMs, a measure expected to also strengthen national security.”
Adinde stated that while the NCC is progressively pursuing digital inclusion for all, the draft proposal is intended to guarantee increased monitoring of children and shield the minors from undue liabilities in line with NCC’s Child Online Protection drive.
He pointed that that the engagement process is still ongoing, adding that the NCC is still reviewing all input from relevant stakeholders in this regard and will consider and deliberate on all comments before issuing a final regulatory instrument.