The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, on Monday in Abuja frowned at the use of unregistered SIM cards in the country in spite of subsisting government ban.

Burutai said the development was a major setback in the use of digital and mobile forensics by the Nigeria military in the fight against terrorism, kidnapping and other national threats.

The army chief spoke at the opening of the 6th International Digital, Mobile and Computer Forensics Conference and Training Expo organised by the Computer Forensics Institute of Nigeria (CFIN).

In a paper edtitled, “Digital, Mobile and Computer Forensics as a Tool in Fighting Terrorism and Internal Threats’’, he said military investigators were able to get unregistered SIM cards from vendors last week without difficulty.

Buratai, who was represented by Brig.-Gen. Samuel Adebayo, also identified improperly registered SIM cards in use in the country as a challenge.

These, he noted, were making identity tracking, especially in the case of kidnappings, terrorism and other forms of criminal acts in the country almost an impossible task.

“In some instances, these SIM cards are registered with phony names, untraceable addresses or even unrecognisable photographs.

“For those who are involved in investigation of those kinds of things, when you go to the service provider, you will discover that the data on some people is blank; there is no face attached to it.

“In some cases, the users live in the bush or hills, but registered the SIM cards with addresses that don’t exist because the man who registered them allowed such a thing without any method of confirmation.

“So, when it comes to the analysis, you discover that you are hitting a brick wall because to do a link analysis becomes very difficult or unfortunately impossible.

“I believe there is the need to raise this issue because as at a week ago, we were still able to get some SIM cards that are unregistered from vendors without any problem, and they are still working till now’’.

Burutai identified other challenges of Digital, Mobile and Computer Forensics to include inadequate personnel to handle cases, and rapid advancement in evolution of mobile phones and devices with huge cost implications for the military.

He urged participants at the conference to critically examine the issues and come up with lasting solutions to the problems.

The President of CFIN, Dr Peter Olayiwola, said the three-day conference would provide practical solutions to the issues raised by the Chief of Army Staff.

“The relevance of this conference to Nigeria is expressed in its theme, which is `Digital, Mobile and Computer Forensics: Tools for Intelligence, Investigation and National Security’. The three-day conference promises to deliver just that.

“It should be borne in mind that as a result of the tremendous increase in digital devices today, most of the evidence needed to convict the criminal is resident in these devices.

“Mobile and computer forensics provide the best form of evidence today, whether intelligence gathering, investigation and for national security. So, be prepared to learn,’’ Olayiwola said.

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