Unsolicited Text Messages: Telecoms Operators Flout NCC Directive | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Unsolicited Text Messages: Telecoms Operators Flout NCC Directive

NCC, telecom
Posted: Jul 4, 2016 at 6:15 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Chibuzor Emejor

Abuja – Telecommunications operators have continued unabated to flout the Nigerian Communications Commission’s (NCC) directive on sending of unsolicited text messages to their numerous subscribers.

Recall that NCC had recently given telecoms operators June 30, 2016 as deadline for total compliance, failure they would risk severe sanctions.

Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, had sounded a note of warning to them at the 77th Edition of Telecoms Consumer Parliament in Abuja.

He said following the general complaints of subscribers over unsolicited text messages, the commission issued a directive to telecoms operators to dedicate a short code 2442, on their networks for use by subscribers to opt-in to “Do- NOT-DISTURB” database to register their numbers against unsolicited text messages.

At the event, Danbatta warned that non-compliance to the directive by the operators would attract sanctions.

However, Independent investigations revealed that it is only MTN Nigeria that has complied with the directive.

MTN Nigeria had on June 30, 2016 sent a text message to its subscribers which reads “Dear Customer, learn how to join the Do-Not-Disturb list to stop receiving unwanted campaign messages (except MTN Nigeria). Text Help to 2442 for free.”

From our findings, other telecoms operators are yet to comply, as their subscribers continue to receive unsolicited text messages.

On this nagging issue, it would be noted that on March 8, 2016, Adebayo Shittu, the Minister of Communications, held a meeting with chief executive officers of telecoms operators in his office in Abuja where he also warned them to desist from sending unsolicited text messages through their networks or face sanctions.

Shittu, in addition, told them to stop from under-declaring their revenue and profit, as this criminal act short-changes the government in its revenue generation.

He said that telecoms operators in the country had inundated his office with complaints, petitions and calls on the fraudulent and un-authorised charges.

Shittu warned that their fraudulent activities against subscribers must stop forthwith or “severe sanctions will be imposed on any operators that violates the directive.”

“Many Nigerians have been complaining of unauthorised charges or deduction for unsubscribed /unsolicited messages by all telecoms operators.

“Nigerian Telecommunications Commission (NCC) will properly monitor telecoms operators and prevent them from dubious charges for services not rendered and provides regular updates on monthly basis.

“Any operator found wanting going forward will be severely sanctioned,” the minister warned.

Shittu also said, “It has also come to my notice that the telecom operators do not fully declare to the government their total annual gross revenue, thereby short-changing the government in under-paid taxes and levies.

“The Federal Government will take advantage of new technologies to verify the amount of revenue generated by the telecom operators via government regulatory and revenue agencies like NCC, FIRS, among others.”

The minister who enumerated other infractions such as extortion of subscribers, incessant dropped calls on all networks, dead or silent calls, deficiency in data penetration,  as some of the areas the telecoms operators have been short-changing Nigerians over the years.

However, Independent observed that these infractions and other fraudulent activities perpetrated by telecom operators in Nigeria have continued unabated.

Many analysts have called on NCC, as the telecoms regulator to wake up to its statutory responsibilities, which over the years, it has failed to perform.

Efforts by Independent to get the reaction of Mr. Tony Ojobo, the NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, were unsuccessful, as he did not respond to several calls to his cell phone.