The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said it proposed 18 years as the age qualification for getting the Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card because it is considered as the age of consent by Nigerian laws for which any individual can take responsibility for their actions.
A source within the Commission, who pleaded anonymity, told LEADERSHIP yesterday that contrary to the reports by a section of the media that the commission has disqualified people below 18 from getting SIM cards, it was a draft proposal being discussed by stakeholders in the ongoing Public Inquiry and not the final outcome of the inquiry.
“What the commission is simply trying to propose is 18 years because is the age of consent. Before now, there has never been any clear cut age limit for those qualified to register for SIM card. So, everybody can register.
“That report which purports NCC disqualification of those below 18 years old was out of context and people need to give the correct reporting that will inform people adequately. It is a draft document, which was made available on our website for stakeholders to make input, and not the final outcome of the inquiry,” the source said.
The source added that the aimed is the save minors from being victims of the increasing criminal activities in the country, stressing that the alternative is that parents can also register and give the SIM cards to their children as the data capturing will bear their name
“Parents can register for their children so that they will be held accountable. Some operators are also proposing to bring it down 14 or 16 years because people within that age category are technologically savvy. So, for the sake of digital inclusion, the commission cannot afford to disqualify some people from having access to telecoms service,” the source said.
At the Public Inquiry, it was gathered that Telecoms giant, MTN voiced opposition to the proposal of 18 years, adding that the age limit should be 14 years.
In accordance with Section 57 of the Act, the NCC conducted a Public Inquiry on the Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations, alongside the draft SIM Replacement Guidelines and the draft Spectrum Trading Guidelines at its head office in Abuja on Tuesday.