NCC reports NCAA to ONSA over threat to demolish telecoms towers

The masts row between the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and telecoms companies is getting bigger.

Telecoms regulator Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reported the threat by NCAA to pull down 8,805 telecoms and financial institutions’ towers to the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

The NCAA served the demolition notice on Tuesday over aviation tower height clearance.

But the NCC argued that telecoms masts fall under critical national infrastructure, insisting that any attempt to tamper with them must be with the approval of ONSA.

NCC’s Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Mr. Sunday Dare, in an exclusive note, expressed dismay at the unilateral decision of the aviation regulator, arguing that the issue ought to have been addressed at inter-agency level instead of turning it to a media issue.

He said: “The NCC immediately wrote the ONSA about the threat of demolition by the NCCA. The Commission takes this renewed attempt to carry out the demolition very seriously and will activate all necessary and legal means to forestall it.

“NCC expects that at the minimum the NCCA would relate directly with the Commission as the regulator on this matter in the spirit of government inter-agency collaboration towards some sort of arbitration and resolution. To have chosen to make the matter a media issue suggests some kind of subtle ambush against the operators.”

According to him, the NCAA will unduly expose the country to national security risk as its action would trigger communication blackout while financial institutions which automated teller machines (ATMs) depend on the telecoms towers will not be able to function.

Dare said: “The path the NCCA is towing is not in the best interest of the country as the proposed demolition will have serious security implications. Thousands of subscribers will lose connectivity, bank ATMs will shut down and critical equipment leveraging telecom infrastructure will no longer function.

“Telecoms infrastructure has been classified as Critical National Infrastructure with a subsisting directive that any act of either, demolition, destruction or degradation be cleared with the Office of the National Security Adviser.”

NCAA had said it will commence the immediate demolition of 8,805 telecoms masts belonging to Globacom Nigeria Limited, banks and other financial institutions.

According to the NCAA, the demolition exercise will also affect some banks and other financial institutions who have discountenanced the authority’s regulatory requirements on the clearance to erect any high structure within the navigable airspace in Nigeria.