Underaged Nigerians, regarded as those below 18 years, have not been barred from using phones, according to the telecoms industry regulator.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) made the clarification yesterday in a statement issued by Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Public Affairs Director at the telecoms regulatory agency.
Adinde was responding 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).”
According to the NCC spokesman, “for the avoidance of doubt, the Commission wishes to categorically state that the said report is not only misleading and inaccurate; but a 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 explains that 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.”
He explains further that “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.”
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, Adinde says the public inquiry was held for all relevant stakeholders to provide input on the draft regulatory instrument.
He says that NCC continues to pursue digital inclusion for all while 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.”
The consultative engagement process is still ongoing, he explains, citing that NCC “is reviewing all input from relevant stakeholders in this regard and will consider and deliberate on all comments before issuing a final regulatory instrument.”
Adinde says that 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.”