*Separatist groups in S/East main target
*106 illegal frequencies identified nationwide
By Chesa Chesa
The activities of presumed separatist groups would soon come under firmer surveillance as the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday, approved the procurement and deployment of a hybrid Spectrum Monitoring System worth N653,88 million, to checkmate the illegal use of broadcast frequencies in the Nigeria’s South-East region.
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, announced this after a meeting of the FEC chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, in Abuja.
The Minister further disclosed that users of illegal frequencies which number have been put at 106 across the federation, would soon be apprehended and prosecuted on the advice of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF).
Pantami is the current chairman of the National Frequencies Management Council, which comprises of the representatives of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA); Ministries of Transportation; and Aviation, as well as the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
According to him, “the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy sought the approval of FEC for deploying hybrid Spectrum Monitoring System, most importantly, to focus on the South-Eastern zone of the country.
According to him: “From January to August 2020, within the period of eight months, we discovered 320 frequencies being used all over the country and of these, 106 were illegal.
“This is very worrisome because the usage of this illegal spectrum or frequencies will compromise our security and safety in the country.
“It is because of the agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari, on promoting security that we came up with this initiative of monitoring the usage of frequencies and uncover the legal and the illegal ones.
“For the legal ones, it is to ensure they renew their licenses annually and for the illegal ones, necessary actions are being taken according to the gravity of the offence.
“We discovered that our monitoring did not cover the South-East part of the country. It covered five zones – North-East, North-West, North-Central, South-West and South-South. However, South-East has not been covered.
“It is because of this that we presented our memo, seeking for Council’s approval of N653,886,584 to procure and deploy hybrid Spectrum Monitoring System that will cover the southern part of the country, most importantly the South-East.
“Council approved for the deployment and this project will go a long way in promoting safety and security; secondly, identify the usage of illegal spectrum; thirdly, enhance revenue for the federal government; and fourthly, in the long run, it will create many jobs for the citizens.”
He added that “when we discover the usage of illegal frequency, a letter will be written to that institution to draw their attention to it.
“When they admit, if it is a government institution, there is a process of investigation. There is also a process if it is a private one. Sometimes, it will take up to litigation and we are in the process right now.”
Recall that the leading separatist agitator, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) operates an FM radio frequency which beams its content across the country.
Due to the proscription of IPOB as a terrorist organization and the belief that it uses the radio station to broadcast anti-government programmes, the federal government had been battling to shut out the group from the nation’s airwaves.
The recent move by Pantami is among the several moves to curtail the pro-Biafran group.