Emergency Communication Bill, 2015
OBJECTIVE OF THE BILL
The objectives of the Bill are to:
NUMBER OF CLAUSES/PARTS
The Bill has 26 clauses including interpretation and citation; and a schedule.
The Bill shall apply to the provision and use of emergency communications services in whole or in part within Nigeria or on a ship or aircraft registered in Nigeria
EXPECTATIONS OF THE BILL
The Bill creates and provides for a reliable framework for emergency communication in Nigeria, specifically to: -
IMPLICATIONS OF THE BILL
If the Bill is passed:
GENERAL PROVISIONS OF THE BILL
1. Emergency Communication Fund (“the Fund): -
A fund to be known as Emergency Communication Fund into which income accruing from emergency communication charges, donations, subventions, interests and capital increase pursuant to this Bill (when it becomes law) shall be established (Clause 5).
The proceeds may from time to time be applied to:
2. Emergency Communication: -
Clause 6 provides that the Nigerian Communications Commission (“the Commission”) shall make regulations prescribing emergency communication charges, which shall be collectible on all telephone calls made within the federation other than emergency calls.
The emergency communication charges shall not be more than 2% of call charges. It shall be mandatory for all telecommunication operators in Nigeria to ensure due mobilization and appropriate remittal into the Fund, all monies generated as emergency communication charges.
3. Accounts, Audit and Annual Estimates: -
The Commission shall keep proper records and accounts, and shall have a statement of accounts relating to the last preceding year certified and audited by the auditors appointed by the Commission from the list supplied by the Auditor-General of the Federation (Clause 8).
The Commission shall not later than September 30 of each year, submit to the President, accounts and an estimate of its income and expenditure during the succeeding year in respect of the provisions of this Bill (Clause 7).
4. Investments: -
The Commission may subject to the provisions of this Bill (when it becomes law) and conditions of any trust created in respect of any property, invest all or any of its fund pursuant to this Bill (when it becomes law), in any security prescribed by the Trustee Investment Act or any other securities that may be approved by the President.
5. Public Safety Answering Centers: -
There shall be established in the capital city of each State of the federation and the FCT, Public Safety Answering Centers (“the Center”) or as may be reasonably practicable provided that no one facility will be deemed to be covering more than one State (Clause 10).
The Centers shall:
6. Management of the Centers: -
The Centers shall be managed from time to time by officers designated to do so, and they shall report to the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission on all activities of the Centers (Clause 12).
7. Federal Emergency Coordinating Committee (“Federal Committee”): -
There shall be established, a committee to be known as Federal Response Coordinating Committee, which shall be responsible for the initiation and coordination of response among responder agencies. The Committee shall work closely with all the Public Safety Answering Centers in the Federation as well as the responder agencies.
8. Response Coordination: -
The Federal Committee shall provide coordination exclusively in:
In consultation with the State Committees, the Federal Committee shall provide response coordination in:
9. Membership of the Federal Committee: -
The Federal Committee shall consist of a representative of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), who shall be the Chairman; Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC); Defense Headquarters; Trade Unions; Civil Society; Nigerian Union of Journalists; and Nigerian Police Force.
10. State Response Coordinating Committee (“the State Committee”):
There shall be established, a State Response Coordinating Committee in all States of the Federation and the FCT, which shall be responsible for the coordination of response among responder agencies (Clause 14). The State Committees shall work closely with the Public Safety Answering Centers in the State of its jurisdiction as well as responder agencies.
11. State Committees’ Response Coordination: -
The State Committee shall also provide coordination in –
12. Membership of the State Committee: -
The State Committee shall consist of a representative:
The State Emergency Management Agency (who shall be the Chairman); Nigerian Communication Commission; Trade Unions; Civil Society; Nigerian Union of Journalists; Nigeria Police Force and National Security and Civil Defense Corps.
The State Committee shall be appointed by the Advisory Committee on such terms and conditions it shall prescribe.
13. Responder Agencies: -
The Federal Ministries, Extra-Ministerial Departments, Parastatals and other bodies set out in this Bill shall be the responder agencies, and –
Clause 15(2) lists the responder agencies as Federal Ministries of Transport, Environment, and Interior; NEMA, Nigerian Police Force, Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria, Nigerian Maritime Authority, National Inland Waterways Authority, Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria, National Youth Service Corps, Office of the National Security Adviser, Federal Road Safety Commission, Nigerian Meteorological Agency and Federal and State Fire Service.
14. Membership of the Advisory Committee: -
Clause 17 provides the list of members of the Advisory Committee as follows -:
The Chairman and other members, other than the ex-officio members shall be appointed by the President.
15. Tenure of Office: -
The Chairman and other members of the Advisory Committee other than the ex-officio members, shall hold office:-
16. Cessation of Membership: -
A person shall cease to hold office as a member of the Advisory Committee if –
If a member of the advisory committee ceases to hold office for any reason, before the expiration of the term for which he is appointed, another person representing the same interest as that member shall be appointed for the unexpired term (Clause 19(2))
A member may be removed from office by the President if he is satisfied that it is not in the interest of the Agency or public that the person remains in office.
17. Establishment and Powers of the Advisory Committee: -
There is hereby established the Emergency Communications Advisory Committee (“the Advisory Committee”) (Clause 16).
Clause 20 provides that the Advisory Committee shall have the power to –
18. Functions of the Commission: -
The Commission shall –
19. Directives of the President: -
The President may give directives of a general nature or relating generally to matters of policy to the Advisory Committee with regard to the exercise of its function as he may consider necessary and it shall be the duty of the Advisory Committee to comply with the directives or cause them to be complied with (Clause 23).
20. Regulations: -
The Commission may make such regulations as in its opinion are necessary or expedient for giving full effect to the provisions of this Bill and for the due administration of its provisions (when it becomes law).
21. Annual Report to the National Assembly:
Audited accounts of the Commission along with report of its activities during the preceding year and the auditor’s report, shall be submitted to the relevant committees of both Houses of the National assembly not later than June of each year (Clause 22).
Any responder agency, which fails to provide the desired appropriate response, shall be liable to the payment of adequate compensation as may be determined by a Federal High Court or High Court of a State (Clause 15(3))
Notwithstanding any other enactment, regulators or directives, evasion or negligence to the provisions of this Bill, any telecommunication operator in Nigeria that fails to ensure due mobilization and appropriate remittal into the Emergency Communication Fund, all funds standing to the credit of emergency communication charges, shall be liable to the withdrawal of operating license and payment of 7 (seven) times the amount not remitted or evaded
The Bill seeks to enhance the nation’s internal security and the capacity to manage disaster and emergencies through provision of emergency communication facilities. It seeks to enable citizen-activated response to emergencies; and the establishment of public safety answering centers throughout the country.
Several agencies are listed on the Bill as the responder agencies (see above). That means that these MDAs would require strengthening in order to effectively carry out the duties of a ‘responder’. The various Acts setting up these MDAs would need to be amended to add emergency responder as provided under this Bill to their functions. For instance, though NEMA is statutorily empowered to respond to emergency situations across Nigeria, the proposed coordination that this Bill seeks to create with a Federal Emergency Coordinating Committee needs to be provided for in the NEMA (Est.) Act 2004.
The NEMA Act provides for State Emergency Coordination Committees for each state and NEMA being the federal coordinating body; however, the Bill seeks to create a separate body to be known as Federal Emergency Coordinating Committee.
Rather than creating a new body to coordinate communication between the emergency response agencies, a unit within NEMA can be strengthened to perform this role and no agency created. This Bill can be consolidated with National Emergency Management Agency (Est.) Act 2004 (Amend.) Bill – HB 804, sponsored by Hon. Ali Isa and National Emergency Management Agency Act, 2004 (Amend.) Bill – HB 985, sponsored by Hon. Joseph E. Edionwele, to provide for the strengthening of NEMA’s communication unit.