The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that Nigerians under 18 are free to own mobile phones but the lines have to be registered for them by their parents or guardians.
The NCC made the clarification to disabuse the minds of the public that the commission has no intention of stopping Nigerians under 18 from getting Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards.
The Commission said parents and guardians will be ready to take responsibility for whatever might happen thereafter.
NCC in a statement signed by its Director of Public Administration, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, said reports suggesting the commission planned to stop access to SIM cards by Nigerians below 18 years was misleading, inaccurate and mischaracterization 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 said it considered 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 be 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 arise from the usage of such SIMs, a measure expected to also strengthen national security,” NCC stated.
NCC noted that while it is progressively pursuing digital inclusion for all, the draft proposal is intended to guarantee increased monitoring of children and shield minors from undue liabilities in line with NCC’s Child Online Protection drive.
“However, the consultative engagement process is still ongoing, as the Commission is reviewing all input from relevant stakeholders in this regard and will consider and deliberate on all comments before issuing a final regulatory instrument,” NCC stated.