Senate reinforces legal status for national emergency number 112

The Nigerian Senate has taken further steps to strengthen the legal status of the country’s National Emergency Number 112, being implemented by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) through its Emergency Communication Centres (ECC).

The Senate Committee on Communications recently organised a one-day public hearing where stakeholders gathered to make valuable contributions and observations on two bills by the committee.

The bills include the Nigerian Postal Service Act (Repeal and Establishment) Bill, 2021 and the Nationwide Toll-Free Emergency Number (Establishment) Bill, 2021, being sponsored by Senator Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State.

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The emergency number bill passed the second reading on Wednesday, April 21, 2021, and the recent Senate public hearing on the bill was to have extensive discussion towards making the bill more robust and to ensure a more effective, well-coordinated national emergency number 112, when it is finally passed into law, similar to the 999 emergency number in the United Kingdom and 911 in the United States.

Speaking at the public hearing, Senate President, Dr. Ahmed Lawan, stressed the desirability of passing such a bill into an Act of the National Assembly, adding that the critical role of communication in the modern-day, especially in handling emergencies cannot be over-emphasized.

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Similarly, the Chairman of the Senate Committee, Oluremi Tinubu, said the bill, when passed, will establish the Nationwide Toll-Free Number as a primary emergency number and contact point for all emergency services in Nigeria, thereby harmonizing the various emergency numbers in the country into one uniform number while, at the same time, empowering the NCC to supervise and ensure compliance.

Represented by his colleague, Senator Odebiyi Akinremi, Senator Amosun said the bill seeks to make 112 the Emergency Number of Nigeria, stating that “this will enable citizens have access to quick and timely response in respect of all forms of emergencies such as road accidents, fire outbreaks, burglary, medical emergencies and so on’’.

Also speaking, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, commended the Senate for organizing the public hearing.

The Minister said while the NCC had established functional ECCs across 23 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, efforts are in top gear to ensure ECC is established in the remaining 13 states of the Federation for the processing of the emergency calls through the 112 Number.

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