The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)says it is working with other consumer products regulatory agencies to tackle the importation of fake and bio hazardous phones and accessories into the country.
The Executive Vice chairman of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, stated this at the World Consumer Rights Day news conference and presentation of Telecom Consumer Handbook on Monday in Abuja.
Danbatta said the collaboration with other agencies was also to ensure the protection of the environment in consonance with the theme of the consumer rights day which was: “Tackling Plastic Pollution”.
He lamented the recurrent cycle of fraudulent deployment of fake and substandard mobile devices usually made of iron and plastic components.
Danbatta urged the office of the National Security Adviser and other relevant Federal Government agencies to collaborate and inaugurate a committee to implement Mobile Devices Management Systems (DMS).
“This initiative is designed as a Public-Private Partnership aimed at combating the proliferation of fake, counterfeit, substandard and cloned communication devices in the telecommunications industry.
“The expected result of this initiative is that, only genuine materials malleable to enduring usage are available for consumer use,” he said.
He said the commission also implemented a strict type-approval process that ensured all equipment used in the telecommunications industry were of a suitable standard, both for the good of the consumers and for the preservation of the environment.
Speaking on the theme, Danbatta said the connection between the 2021 theme for world consumer rights day and the proactive initiatives of the commission toward protecting the environment as well as efforts on tackling electronic waste in Nigeria.
He said activities and actions slated to commemorate the world consumer rights day for 2021 were to raise awareness and engage state and non-state actors on the global plastic pollution crisis.
“This conference is conceived to highlight NCC’s commitment to protecting the telecom consumers and watch to highlight the regulatory role of NCC with respect to protecting the Rights of the Telecom Consumers and to connect it with the global significance of today’s celebration.
“The objective of the regulation is to manage E-Waste; promote reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery;
“To improve environmental management system of operators in the telecom industry and reduce greenhouse emissions as well as enhance sustainable development efforts,” he said.
He recalled that in tackling the issues of plastic pollution, NCC drafted the Nigerian Commutations Industry E-Waste Regulation in 2018.
He further said the commission had made an established correlation between the vision and activities of NCC and the global consumer rights movement and the steps taken by the commission had direct bearing to the theme of this year’s world consumer rights day.
The NCC boss noted that the commission was concluding processes to issue the regulation on e-waste.
“It is mindful of the fact that many ICT and telecom devices have plastic components, whose waste materials can worsen plastic pollution.
“We reckon that improper disposal of such disused ICT-plastic embedded products has grave implication on public health and especially in achieving Goals 11, 12 and 13 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030.
“These goals speak to the imperative of adhering to practices that enhance Sustainable Cities and Communities, Responsible Consumption and Production; as well as Climate Action respectively.
Danbatta pointed out that the commission had designed an array of consumer protection measures such as the “Do not Disturb” “Data Rollover” “112 safety number” and value-added services, which had reduced unsolicited calls and messages by 96 per cent in three years.
On the issues of SIM and National Identity Number (NIN) normalisation, the EVC said the commission had ensured full compliance with Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards registration guidelines by the service providers and telecom consumers.
“This is to ensure proper registration to stop the use of improperly-registered SIMs, which usage is difficult to track. Having a credible subscriber database helps in tracing a SIM card to the real owner in case of any criminal investigation.
“This will help in curbing the painful rise in tempo of kidnapping, robberies, banditry and similar crimes committed with the aid of the use of SIM cards.
“We have made arrests and prosecutions in the past in this regard and through this effort, we have been able to sanitise the telecoms ecosystem of improperly-registered SIM cards that pose threats to national security.
“It is therefore pertinent to say that the linking of SIM and NIN database will further help us in this direction, toward protecting the consumers and all citizens at large,” he said.
He thanked all telecom subscribers for their understanding and cooperation in the ongoing SIM-NIN harmonisation exercise.
The Chairman of the Industry Consumer Advisory Forum (ICAF) Mr. Ighoovie Majemite said the rights of the consumer was key to the development of the industry.
Majemite, however, said the forum was poised to further sensitise the consumer on their rights while adhering to safety and security protocols.
One of the highlights of the event was the unveiling of a new Consumer Handbook, a compendium of consumer information materials compiled to enhance education and protection of the consumer.
It also contained codes on consumer rights, obligations, practices, cyber security and safety tips.