Senators warn of security threat from telecom firms


Saraki laments increasing spate of corruption
The Senate has drawn attention to a national security threat arising from recent activities of some telecommunication firms operating in Nigeria.

At the budget defense session of the ministry of communications, the chairman of senate committee on communications, senator Gilbert Nnaji, alerted that “some of the telecommunication companies have started relocating their Network Operation Centres (NOC) from Nigeria to India”, a situation he said has grave implication on national security, adding that “these centres would be monitored by foreigners from outside the shores of Nigeria”.

While requesting the minister to urgently take necessary actions towards arresting the situation before it degenerated, Nnaji further expressed serious concern over “indiscriminate sack of competent Nigerian employees at the expense of their foreign counterparts; contravention of expatriate quota, casualization, intimidation and discrimination of indigenous staff” by these network providers

Responding, Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, assured the committee that he would critically review those issues and report back immediately to the committee with regard to measures taken.

He also announced that before the end of the first quarter of this year the ministry would inaugurate the implementation committee for the transformation of the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI) located in the six geo-political zones of the country into Information and Communications Technology, ICT, University. This according to him was to start producing graduates and skilled manpower that would fit into the modern GSM industry and international market.

The total budget proposal was N18, 750,951,876 while 11,206,732,734 and 7,544,169,142 represented recurrent and capital expenditure respectively.
Also yesterday, President of the Senate, Abubakar Bukola Saraki admitted that the bane of Nigeria’s growth and development is corruption which he noted had eaten deep into the fabric of the Nigerian society.

According to him, the fight against corruption in the country has been very difficult because of what he termed, the inadequacies in some of the nation`s core anti-corruption laws.

Speaking yesterday in Abuja when he declared open a public hearing jointly organised by the Senate Joint Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights & Legal Matters; Anti-Corruption & Financial Crimes; and Foreign Affairs, he lamented that “crime is now established on an international scale.”

The hearing was organized by the joint committees to critically examine and collate inputs on two priority Bills, the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill, 2016 (SB. 224); and the Small Claims Courts (Establishment Bill, 2016(SB.44) of the 8th Senate.

Saraki explained that the essence of the first bill, the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill was to among others, help facilitate and establish strong partnerships between Nigeria and foreign governments in combating criminal activities that transcend geographical borders and assume international dimensions, irrespective of whether they originate from Nigeria.

According to him, the bill is a positive step in bringing an end to the many setbacks we may have experienced and would go a long way in providing the legal framework to bring about clarity in gathering and transmission of evidence or any other information between Nigeria and foreign government agencies in investigations of ongoing criminal matters, adding that the bill is one which targets the affairs of the working class citizenry, who cannot afford to waste their already limited resources in long drawn out court cases.

He said: “While it is generally admitted that as a nation our development and growth has stagnated as a result of the menace of corruption, it is also telling that the fight against corruption has been painstakingly cumbersome because of the inadequacies in some of our core anti-corruption laws.
“As a parliament, we fully understand our role in carrying the constitutional responsibility and obligation of ensuring our laws are constantly reviewed and updated according to modern realities and exigencies”.

Saraki who hailed the Executive for sponsoring the bill, however maintained that “fighting and extinguishing corrupt practices can only be successful where the appropriate framework exists. Too many times we have seen stalled cases and investigations because of legal technicalities and loopholes in existing laws.”

On the Small Claims Court Establishment Bill, Saraki who noted that it has the potential to address a very pertinent issue that has beleaguered the Judiciary for many years, incessant delays in adjudication of minor cases, said: “Justice delayed is equivalent to justice denied and correcting this anomaly is at the very soul of the Small Claims Court Establishment Bill.

“With the establishment of such courts, the burden on regular courts will be drastically reduced thereby creating a more efficient and effective adjudicative process across all cadres of courts in the country.

“As obtained in developed democracies like the USA where all States have small claims court, the rules that govern them emphasize informality and timely resolution of dispute”.

Earlier in his remarks, chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator David Umaru (APC Niger East), said the public hearing was organized to avail stakeholders and the general public of the importance of the two bills, and to get their contributions for possible enactments as Acts of National Assembly.


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