Policy analysts and industry groups have strongly canvassed against the outright banning of tobacco production in Nigeria.
Banning the legitimate production and distribution of tobacco products, the groups argue, will spark off a series of developments, including smuggling and criminal money laundering, whose consequences will portend far worse problems for Nigeria, they warned.
This counsel is coming in the wake of deliberations held on the proposed tobacco bill in the Senate on September 24, 2014.
The proposed bill seeks to regulate the production and consumption of tobacco products in Nigeria.
While Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, Majority Leader of the Senate and other Senators canvassed balanced regulation of the tobacco industry, some members of the Upper Legislative Chamber canvassed for an outright ban of tobacco production in Nigeria.
“What we are saying is that the legislation should be such that is enforceable and its outcomes, realistic and predictable,” said Olusegun Sotola, head of Research and Advocacy at the Initiative for Public Policy Analysis (IPPA), an independent policy research organisation based in Lagos.
“Banning the production and consumption of cigarettes will affect legitimate producers in Nigeria and lead to a closure of factories and losses of thousands of jobs with serious economic backlash on many families.”
He continued: “This approach will defeat the goals of the stakeholders which is to seek a balanced regulation of the industry. Banning legitimate tobacco production will compound and render ineffective the bill when it becomes operational.
“Lawmakers should be mindful of the fact that industry players who have roles to play in addressing the concerns over tobacco consumption will no longer have a stake.
At the same time, the industry’s quest for safer alternatives to regular cigarettes will wane.
The key objective for lawmakers is to seek regulations that will protect non-smokers from the effect of cigarette consumption.
Incidentally he added, banning the production of cigarettes in Nigeria is not likely to curb the demand for cigarettes as those who smoke will continue to smoke. “Demand for cigarettes,” he said, “ given our porous borders will simply be met by smuggling of cigarettes into Nigeria, which could worsen the security challenges in the country.
Using examples from other countries that had in the past attempted to impose draconian regulations on tobacco production, Sotola explained that the rate of cigarette smuggling went up drastically in such countries as a consequence. “An outright ban will leave Nigeria’s borders wide open for smugglers to fill the vacuum because no legislation can stop or eliminate smokers’ demand for cigarettes,” he counselled.
“An important point the legislators should ponder is why any government hasn’t banned the sale of cigarettes,” posited Tony Ogbulafor of the Campaign for Social Justice, CSJ, a civil society group. “Demand for cigarettes cannot be legislated upon.
” Since laws cannot create demand, it is incumbent on the legislators to draft laws that will along with industry players help smokers to quit and promote the wellbeing of Nigerians as well as the society, rather than one that, while seeking to promote public health on one hand, undermines the very essence of what they seek to achieve.”
He added: “As long as smoking cannot be legislated out of existence, legislators should strive to protect smokers and non-smokers, the economy as well as the security of the country from the more damaging effects of cigarette smuggling.”
Similarly, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) had stated at the Public Hearing on the National Tobacco Control Bill, organised by the Committee on Health of the House of Representatives in July, that the legislators should be wary of any legislation that they seek to enact, so that such legislation does not lead to harm than the good it seeks to bring about.
MAN had argued at the hearing that it would be counter-productive to strangulate legitimate producers who have invested and contributed to the country’s achieving inclusive growth and then leave smokers to resort to smuggled cigarettes which are produced in other countries.
NCC Arrests Man for Hacking into DSTV System
Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC), has arrested one Mr Aliu Olalekan, for allegedly hacking into DSTV system and watching the channels free without subscription.
Mr Matthew Ojo, NCC Director in the Lagos Directorate Office said this while speaking with newsmen in Lagos, on Tuesday.
He said that the suspect used to watch DSTV channels free without subscription on his Android phone via an app which he downloaded on google play store.
“This suspect distributed the know-how to his telegram followers and on his blog with the aim of gaining more followers and viewership on his blog and makes more money through google ad-sense.
“The operation was based on surveillance which had earlier been carried out by the Multi-choice team and verified by a copyright inspector, ” he said.
He added that the arrest was made in collaboration with a team of copyright inspectors led by the Head of Enforcement Department, Mr Charles Amudipe.
Others included; a team from Multichoice Nigeria led by Mr Umar Ibrahim and policemen from Lagos Command Headquarters, Ikeja.
Ojo said that the joint team conducted an anti-piracy operation at the premises of the culprit in Amukoko, Lagos.
According to him, the suspect was contacted on phone by a member of the operation team on the disguise of patronising him. “The suspect came out to meet the caller and in the process of discussion, he was apprehended.
“The suspect took the team to his resident. The squad paraded his one-room apartment and recovered his laptop and phones used in perpetrating the ungodly act. “He was arrested and brought to the copyright commission office for further investigation, ” he said.
Ojo said that, on getting to the commission’s office, the statement of the suspect was taken and the inventory of items seized from him taken. He said that investigation on the matter was still ongoing and if found guilty the suspect will be charged to court.
NCC, Digital Encode Support NITRA Innovative Tech Forum On Post-COVID-19 Strategies
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigeria’s telecommunications regulator and Digital Encode, Cybersecurity and Compliance advisory company, have indicated interest to partner with the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA), the national umbrella body of ICT reporters, as it organizes a forum that will x-ray the industry’s future plans for ICT growth post pandemic era.
The event, slated to hold on October 15, 2020, will seek to discuss the needs for a fortified ICT sector after the COVID-19 era, and the level of preparedness of ICT stakeholders to embrace the challenge of being pivotal to the stability and growth of all other sectors.
A statement from NITRA National Secretariat in Lagos indicates that due to the pandemic and need to observe the COVID-19 protocol on social distancing, the event will be held via a Webinar.
This year’s theme, “Multi-stakeholder Approach To National Recovery Post-Pandemic”, is in line with the annual event’s generic theme, ‘NITRA Innovative Tech Forum’, a contribution by NITRA to the development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) innovations and policies in Nigeria.
Prof. Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman, NCC is expected to deliver the keynote speech at the event and will throw more light on Federal Government’s plans, programmes and policies on post-pandemic strategies using ICT.
Dr. Adewale Obadare and Dr. Seyi Akindeinde, founders of Digital Encode, while accepting to support the event expressed their readiness to offer their expertise in Cybersecurity for organisations to prepare against cyber- attacks with the new normal.
They will also highlight areas that are high risks that need fortification in terms of cybersecurity.
Speaking on the event, Mr. Chike Onwuegbuchi, national chairman, NITRA, noted that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to leave its negative trails across the globe, economic reboot for countries will not only depend on how well they readapt to the new normal, but also more on their recovery plans.
According to him: “While the federal government has consistently expressed its willingness to set all policies in place to engender growth, and accelerated implementation of these policies, private sector firms have also shown great hunger for the task ahead in post-COVID-19 era.
However, the question that needs to be answered is whether all stakeholders are ready for the required task ahead.”
The event will also offer participating companies opportunities to publicize some of their individual efforts at contributing to reacting a soft landing or lifeline for SMEs and other ancillary companies as the pandemic threatens their survival.
Digital Encode is a multi-award winning and leading consulting and integration firm that specializes in the design, management, and security of business-critical networks, telecommunications environments and other Information Technology (IT) infrastructures.
NCC Threatens Illegal Users of GSM Boosters with Arrest, Prosecution
Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has warned telecom consumers to desist from using illegal GSM boosters.
The commission also said that anyone caught using a GSM booster without obtaining approval of a duly licensed network operator will face arrest and prosecution.
GSM boosters are devices that transmit and receive telecommunications signals and can therefore interfere with other radio frequency equipment.
Ikechukwu Adinde, director, public affairs, NCC, said in a notice published on NCC website, that only licensed network operators are allowed to use GSM boosters.
The booster, also known as amplifier or repeater is made up of three main elements – exterior antenna, amplifier, and interior antenna.
They form a wireless system to boost cellular reception
“Members of the public should note that, willful interference with any wireless telegraphy is an offence under Section 16 of the Telegraphy Act, 2004,”it said
The agency said it will not condone any flagrant breach of this law.
It has also enforced measures to prosecute offenders.
Accordingly, monitoring mechanisms have been put in place and anyone caught using a GSM booster without obtaining approval of a duly licensed network operator will face arrest and prosecution.
“Any member of the public with useful information regarding the illegal use of GSM Boosters should contact the Commission on 09-4617000/7351 or send an email to [email protected],” the notice said.
“Individuals desirous of using GSM Boosters should note that they can only do so in conjunction with licensed network operators,” it added.
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