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NCC Denies Plans to Deprive Minors of Access to SIM

Proposal Rooted in Constitution, To Protect Minors

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has strongly refuted reports in some sections of the media which suggest that it is developing a regulation to disqualify Nigerians below 18 years of age from getting Subscriber Identity Module (SIM).

The Commission described the report as misleading, inaccurate and explained that it was just trying to do the right thing by falling in line with the provisions of the Constitution which stipulates that less- than-18-year-olds are minors and can therefore not enter into contractual obligations, as a way of protecting them. 

The statement signed by the Commission’s Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, further explained that minors could still have access to telecoms services through their parents or guardians , without necessarily owning the SIMs, through their parents or guardians.

“For the avoidance of doubts, 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.

“The Commission 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.

“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.

“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.

The Commission maintains that it has to strike a balance between its goal of digital inclusion and that of protecting children.

“While the Commission is progressively pursuing digital inclusion for all, 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.

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