The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has, once again, restated one of its central mandates – to promote and protect the interests of the telecom consumers, just as it also counsels telecom consumers to be wary of what they do on the Internet and who they allow to access their devices.
The Commission made the declaration recently in Benin, Edo State, at the first edition of a recently-unveiled consumer advocacy initiative tagged: “Shine Your Eyes, No Fall Mugu”, facilitated by the Commission’s Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB).
Speaking at the event, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, who was represented at the forum by the Director, CAB, Efosa Idehen, said the Commission demonstrated its seriousness in protecting consumer interests with the creation in 2001 of CAB as full-fledged department to oversee the fulfilment of that mandate.
Danbatta stated that the Commission had been able to actualise the mandate through strategic collaboration with consumer advocacy groups and relevant stakeholders. He said the Commission has collaboratively been creating awareness and remodelling programmes appropriately and implementing new initiatives, such as ‘Shine Your Eyes’, in order to share information and educate the consumers, and to nudge them to take informed decisions to enhance their protection.
According to Danbatta, due to increased accessibility to the resources of the Internet, facilitated by the NCC, as the national regulatory authority for telecommunications in Nigeria, millions of telecom consumers are also experiencing rise in tempo and sophistication of cybercrimes. He asserted that financial fraud has been on the increase, and has been quite concerning for the Commission, which is determined to ensure that telecom platforms are not used to perpetrate crimes.
He said the NCC is determined to heighten existing collaborations with all stakeholders to mitigate and ultimately stop the risk factor widely associated with the use of electronic payment systems.
Danbatta further informed the gathering that ‘Shine Your Eyes, No Fall Mugu’, is implemented by NCC, targeting a segment of consumers, especially artisans and localised entrepreneurs. The CEO of NCC explained that the use of localised language for the advocacy is meant to ensure that the target audience have a robust meaning exchange with the Commission in contexts that make meaning to them. He further advised participants to ensure they are able to recall the mobile number of, at least, one person with whom they relate closely so they can call such persons for assistance if they get stranded or lose their phones to criminals.
Also making a presentation at the event, the Director, New Media and Information Security (DNMIS), NCC, Dr. Alhassan Haru, corroborated Danbatta’s admonition to the consumers by advising participants to eschew certain practices if they want to safeguard unauthorised access to their financial and other sensitive information online.
“It is improper to give other people your Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) to help you do online transactions because the identity of the real card owner and the security of financial assets may be compromised in the process,” Haru said.
Other practices Haru advised against include sharing phones and other devices with other persons who may use them for criminal purposes; and the use of birth dates or other easy-to-guess figures as passwords for phones and devices, which can be decoded easily by close friends that may invade privacy of others for criminal purposes.
Haru also counselled participants to be wary of what they post online. “It is better to be thoughtful. So, stop, think before you act. The Internet does not forget,” he asserted, to emphasise the permanence of content posted online.
The event was attended by a variety of persons including artisans, retailers and other entrepreneurs, who participated actively and used the opportunity to ask questions from Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), who also participated and helped to give clarifications sought by participants about mobile and related services. Some participants also used the benefit of the event to process their National Identifcation Number (NIN)-Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) integration at the kiosks of the MNOs stationed near the venue of the event.
Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde
Director Public Affairs
December 7, 2021