The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, has disclosed that the communication sector had prioritised security over economic benefits.
Pantami made the disclosure during the official launch of the Nigerian Communications Commission’s (NCC) Strategic Vision Plan (SVP), 2021-2025, Podcast and the Book Compendium of Prof. Umar Danbatta’s Speeches, on Tuesday in Abuja.
According to him, the Ministry does not joke with security, adding that it aids the security institutions and as such compromises economic benefits that will have been for the sector.
“We have even been compromising the economic progress of our sector because of our aim in supporting security institutions.
“At any point in time in the telecommunication sector, our position is security takes precedence over economic benefits’. “Security is our priority followed by economic benefits. But if two things can be pursued, this one is our priority.
On the issue of subscribers’ biodata, the Minister, however, explained that only the security institutions were constitutionally empowered to access that.
“When something happens and phone number is involved our function is to transmit that number to security institution like the Police and Department of State Security (DSS). “Go to them and explain that your brother has been kidnapped and this is the number they used in contacting us.
“The police or DSS know the procedure and they will communicate to the NCC or telecom providers for biodata so that it will not be abused.
“It is because of this that only security institutions have the power to ask for that information. He said although one’s phone conversation was constitutionally confidential, the 2015 Cybercrime Act and subsidiary legislation of the commission gave the Federal Government the power of interception.
“Constitutionally, your phone conversation should be confidential. “Look at the Constitution of Nigeria Section 37 and 39 and see clearly that it is only the cybercrime Act 2015 and subsidiary legislation of the Commission that allows government, that’s when a crime is committed. “That is what is called lawful intercept’,” Pantami said.
The Executive Vice-Chairman (EVC), of NCC, Danbatta, in his speech, explained that the Strategic Vision Plan (SVP) took cognisance of all the existing developmental documents.
“We have taken cognisance of the several notable advancements in the Nigerian telecommunications industry within the last five (5) years, as well.