Reps approve N5m fine for illegally registered SIM cards

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It was gathered that the House of Representatives has passed for a second reading a Bill seeking to compel corporate bodies to pay the sum N5 million penalty against the sale of illegally registered SIM cards in the country.

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According to the Bill which was jointly sponsored by Rep. Nicholas Ossai (PDP-Delta) and Rep. Peter Akpatason (APC-Edo) also proposed N500, 000 fine or an option of six months imprisonment against individuals liable of using the illegally registered and pre-registered SIM cards.

Leading a debate on the bill, Akpatason expressed worry that the country was under serious security threat due to use of unregistered and pre-registered SIM cards.

He stated that criminals, particularly kidnappers use it as a means of perpetrating their act without being traced.

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Akpatason also stated the need to amend the Nigeria Communications Act 2004 to provide for regulation of unsolicited telephone communications from telecommunication service providers.

He said the amendment was crucial in checking the activities of service providers, whom he accused of inundating customers telephone lines with unsolicited calls and messages.

According to him, such unsolicited messages are unaccepted because the service providers end up charging the mobile phone users for unsubscribed contents.

“We are all victims of this as the service providers are more interested in maximising profit through the unsolicited calls and messages rather than live up to their cooperate social responsibilities.

“Some individuals and syndicate connive with some service providers to produce the SIM cards and sell to people without proper registration and this is capable of undermining the security of lives of Nigerians.”

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On the sensitivity of contents allowed by some online service providers, Akpatason called for stronger regulations to ensure they complied with acceptable ethical and moral standard.

“There must be a legislation to make provision for the promotion of online safety that will require internet service providers and mobile phone operators to provide services that exclude adult content,” Akpatason said.

Contributing, Rep Aminu Shagari (APC-Sokoto) accused service providers of dropping calls intentionally with the purpose of charging the mobile phone users extra fees.

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He said that some of the pornographic materials being allowed in some networks damaged the country’s moral values.

Also Rep. Johnson Agbonayinma (APC-Edo) said the trend must be checked in order to ensure there was improved quality service in the telecommunication sector.

He charged the regulatory bodies to be proactive in checking the excesses of internet service providers in the country.

Ruling on the matter, the Speaker of the House, Mr Yakubu Dogara referred the matter to House Committee on Communications.

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