The Bill seeking to compel compulsory installation of Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) on private buildings and offices has passed second reading in the House of Representatives. The Bill was sponsored by Awaji-Inombek Abiante, with the title: “A Bill for an Act to Make Provision for the Integration of Private Closed Circuit Television Infrastructure into the National security Network in Nigeria.”
The objective is to keep the environment in check and help security agencies to solve cases of crime through a network of CCTV security infrastructure.
The Bill stipulates punishment of imprisonment and fine for any corporate organization or individual who fails to install cameras in his building or environs.
“Any company or organization in Nigeria that refuses, out of neglect, to install CCTV camera within and outside its premises is liable to a fine of at least N500,000 or an imprisonment of six months or both. Continual refusal to install CCTV camera shall attract a fine of at least N1 million or a year in imprisonment or both,” the Bill reads.
The Bill which was introduced late last year was part of the House of Representatives efforts to compel both federal and state governments to use cameras as means of fighting insecurity in the country. But it isn’t the first time Nigeria is taking a shot at security cameras.
In 2010, the Nigerian government awarded a $470 million contract for the installation of 2,000 cameras in Lagos and Abuja. About $400 million was provided by the Chinese EXIMBank for the Chinese firm, ZTE to execute the project. The Ministry of Finance and Police Affairs, and the Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT) came together to sign a tripartite agreement for the management of the CCTV cameras. The agreement holds the Federal Ministry of Finance as the borrower of the fund, the Ministry of Police Affairs was designated as the beneficiary while the Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited, was listed as the operator. The project was expected to be delivered by July 2011.
In October 2019, the House of Representatives was holding a plenary on the CCTV project. Nine years had gone since it was initiated and there were little sights of cameras in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and the functionality of the few there are, is a bold part of the question. In Lagos, there were some cameras stationed here and there in some streets, serving the purpose of fancy poles only.
The House Committee on Finance has two questions: why are the cameras not working? And what happened to the $460 million borrowed for that purpose?
“Before this administration, we have collected some loans and the one that strikes me the most is the $460 million CCTV installation in Abuja,” Said James Faleke, the House Committee Chairman. “I want to know the position of this loan. I am sure we are paying back the loan but the CCTV is not working.”
He added: “Anytime we take a loan from China, the Chinese will come and do the job; they will bring all their equipment, the personnel and the goods, yet we do not have value for the money especially that of the CCTV.”
Nigerian government’s first attempt at security cameras appears to have ended in disappointment but not discouragement to have another shot at it.
In July last year, the federal government of Nigeria announced a plan to install cameras on major highways in the country. The cameras are to be augmented by drones to tackle incessant security issues around the country. While that is yet to materialize and the mystery of the $460 million CCTV project is yet to be unraveled, the House of Reps seems to have a better idea that will change things.
It is believed that the CCTV project failed because it is a government project. Government’s projects in Nigeria are known to have a high rate of failures owing to its explanation of many factors – mainly corruption.
In the recent turn of events, it seems that the national assembly is bullying private companies to step in where the government has failed, as the threat of fine and possible jail term suggest. Government CCTV chronicles show that there is a little chance that the federal government and states would implement the “Bill for an Act to Make Provision for the Integration of Private Closed Circuit Television Infrastructure into the National security Network in Nigeria” if passed.