112: National emergency number bill passes 2nd reading

Leading the debate on the bill during plenary on Wednesday, April 21, 2021, Senator Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun Central – APC) said the number would aid the implementation of a national system of reporting emergencies.

The former governor lamented that Nigeria currently operates several helpline numbers for different situations in different states, with some of the dedicated numbers longer than the usual memorable three-digit numbers.

He said the multiple non-uniform lines are impediments to getting accelerated emergency response during emergency situations like road accidents, burglaries, medical emergencies, and others.

Citing the example of the 999 emergency number in the United Kingdom, and 911 in the United States, Amosun proposed Nigeria implements ‘112’ as its national emergency number.

He noted that an alternative three-digit emergency number could be suggested during public hearing on the bill if considered necessary.

“The proposed toll-free number is easier to learn, remember and dial.

“It’ll save a lot of Nigerians the stress of having to memorise more than one emergency number,” the lawmaker said.

Amosun noted that the 112 emergency number that presently operates in Nigeria is not functional in the same way intended for the one proposed in the bill.

He said a nationwide system for reporting emergencies will dispense with the multiplicity of emergency numbers, and provide a single point contact for assistance.

Calls or texts to the emergency number would land at the nearest public safety answering point or the control room for necessary secondary responses.

Amosun said the bill seeks to establish efficient and effective emergency response system, and requires synergy between the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), other relevant government agencies, and mobile network service providers.

The bill was passed for second reading and referred to the Committee on Communications to report back within four weeks.

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