The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has drawn the attention of the public to a publication in a section of the media, purporting that the Commission is developing a regulation to disqualify Nigerians below 18 years of age from getting Subscriber Identity Module (SIM).
For the avoidance of doubt, the Commission categorically stated in a recent press statement signed by Dr Director of Public Affairs, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, that the said report is not only misleading and inaccurate but 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.
The Commission, therefore, considered it necessary to set the record straight to serve existing and potential telecom subscribers, investors and other stakeholders in the industry accurate information for making informed decisions.
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 be rational enough to bear certain responsibilities, obligations and liabilities imposed by a contract.
The proposal is, thus, 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.
While the Commission is progressively pursuing digital inclusion for all, the draft proposal is intended to guarantee increased monitoring of children and shield minors from undue liabilities in line with NCC’s Child Online Protection drive.
However, the consultative engagement process is still ongoing, as the Commission is reviewing all input from relevant stakeholders in this regard and will consider and deliberate on all comments before issuing a final regulatory instrument.
We appeal to our media stakeholders to always fact-check their stories pertaining to telecoms regulatory issues and seek necessary clarifications for informed and accurate reporting as the Commission runs an open-house system.