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Cybercrime Act of 2015 classified telecoms facilities CNI—Minister

…Reminds State MDAs that lockup, tresspass now punishable

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isah Pantami has warned ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the 36 states and the FCT that in line with the provisions of the Cybercrime Act of 2015, telecommunications infrastructure had been designated as Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) and are therefore central to national security.

In a statement issued by the Minister’s spokesperson, Ms Uwa Suleiman, the Minister made it clear that henceforth, “Any act of vandalism or deliberate obstruction is unlawful and punishable by law.”

Pantami recalled that several telecoms unions including the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), the umbrella body for all networks had been reporting endless cases of illegal access and willful vandalism of facilities by states’ agencies and actors under the guise of certain tax enforcement.

He decried that “very serious, unpatriotic and corrupt activities of some criminal elements within the public service who have continued to engage in acts capable of undermining the national security”.

According to the minister, “I have received several complaints from Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) about unfortunate incidences of forced closures or outright destruction of telecommunications infrastructure in several parts of the country.

“Base Transceiver Stations and other telecommunications facilities are reportedly being vandalised and MNOs are hindered from delivering the requisite services to the consumer by state owned agencies in some parts of the country.

“In a correspondence with the minister, the Office of the National Security Adviser confirmed and emphasised that telecommunications infrastructure are a Critical National Infrastructure and are central to national security.”

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Accordingly, the Minister averred that “The actions of the state agencies were illegal, and also constituted a threat to national economic development as most businesses depended on services provided by telecoms operators.

While recalling that he had earlier written to state governors, urging them to ensure that all agencies and residents within their domains desist from vandalism of telecoms facilities, he assured MNOs of better protection going forward.