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NITDA vs NCC: Legal services head cautions ‘interest groups’

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The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has warned interest groups in the ICT sector not to set government agencies regulating them on collision course.

Mr Emmanuel Edet, Head, Legal Services and Board Matters of NITDA gave the warning in a statement issued on Wednesday in Abuja.

According to Edet, NITDA as well as other government agencies in the Information Technology (IT) sector has its clear mandate and enabling laws that propel its operations.

He said the warning became necessary following a recent outcry by the Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) alleging that “NITDA is trying to usurp the regulatory functions of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)’’.

ALTON had alleged that NITDA, through the five regulatory instruments it rolled out in January, was usurping the role of the NCC on data services.

The association claimed that the framework which empowers NITDA to license Public Internet Access (PIA) providers is an usurpation of the function of NCC.

The association also claimed NITDA’s “Framework for Data Centre Facilities’’ and “Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR)’’ amounted to multiple regulations that would pose challenge in the industry.

“The key concern is that NITDA appears to be assuming the role of a parallel regulator for data services,’’ ALTON had said in a petition to NCC.

Edet, however, said that no single regulator in Nigeria has a converged mandate on Information Communication Technology (ICT).

“Various agencies have different roles to play in developing and regulating ICT in Nigeria as dictated by their mandates and enabling laws.

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“Furthermore, no single entity is regulated by only one regulator in Nigeria.

“Regulators in the country work in a cooperative and complementary capacity, resolving mandate overlaps in a cooperative manner,’’ he said.

Edet said NITDA with the mandate of the federal government was saddled with the responsibility of establishing regulatory frameworks and guidelines for the smooth operation in the IT sector.

According to him, NITDA had enjoyed a cordial and cooperative relationship with all sector regulators and have consistently engaged them on all regulations and guidelines issued by the agency.

He noted that NITDA is in active collaboration with all sector regulators to ensure full compliance with the NDPR and other regulatory frameworks.

Edet stressed that ALTON and other industry groups are expected to comply with various professionals, sector, geographical and international regulators when their operations so demand.

“We advise that it is not in the strategic interest of interest groups to attempt to set government agencies against each other just because of its short-term benefits.

“NITDA is clear about its mandate as provided by the enabling law and will not be overawed by powerful interest groups to implement its mandate which is to the overall benefit of all Nigerians,’’ Edet said.

Edet warned that violation of the regulatory instruments of NITDA is a criminal offence and punishable with fine, imprisonment or both.

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