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Stolen Handsets Could Be Blocked Throughout West Africa

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APA Lagos (Nigeria) The National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers (NATCOMS) Tuesday said that it would soon introduce an anti theft device that will render any stolen telephone handset unusable within the West African sub region.

The President of NATCOMS, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, told journalists on Tuesday in Lagos that two countries, Ghana and the Republic of Benin had been contacted while efforts were being made to convince other countries in the sub-region to embrace the idea.

"The Republics of Benin and Ghana are readily available while we are still going to contact other countries in the sub-region," Ogunbanjo said.

Speaking on the plan by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to introduce a device that will render any stolen handset unusable by December, Ogunbanjo described the move as a welcome development.

He, however, said that his organisation decided to include other countries in West Africa because stolen phones in Nigeria could be used in any of the countries in the region.

The NCC had during its 47th Consumer Parliament held in Awka in Anambra state in southeastern Nigeria announced that it had set the machinery in motion for the introduction of the anti-theft system that would render any stolen mobile phone handset unusable in Nigeria.

Ogunbanjo said that plans were also being intensified by subscribers in the sub-region to form the West African Association of Telecomms Subscribers (WATCOMS), which he said, would help to facilitate and sustain the system.

He said that it was NATCOMS that first initiated the idea of having an anti-theft system at a telecomms parliament held in December, 2005 and that the GSM Association International was ready to assist Nigeria and other countries to stop the menace.

According to him, NATCOMS has contacted the Executive Secretary of the West African Telecoms Regulatory Agency (WATRA), Mr Nnamdi Nwokike, who has pledged to assist in the realisation of the plan.

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