TELECOMS industry operators face threat of severe sanctions, including withdrawal of operational licenses, for alleged “masking of international telephone calls”, the Nigerian government has warned.
Call masking is a technique that protects buyers’ and sellers’ personal phone numbers using short-lived phone number, by allowing each party to communicate seamlessly during a specified time period.
The sector regulatory authority, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, said it would impose the maximum possible penalties against any of its licensees implicated in the illegal practice.
“It is likely that the operating licenses of some of the interconnect exchange and other licensees involved in the practice would either be revoked or suspended in the coming week,” the commission said in a statement by its spokesperson, Tony Ojobo.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the NCC and senior operatives from the country’s security services met with representatives of the affected licensees on Wednesday last week in Abuja where they were confronted with some of the evidence the commission has against them.
Mr. Ojobo said the meeting was to give the affected licensees another opportunity to defend themselves before possible sanctions.
He listed the licensees to include Medallion Communications Limited, Interconnect Cleaning House Nigeria Limited, Niconnx Communication Limited, Breeze Micro Limited, Solid Interconnectivity and Exchange Telecommunications Limited.
In accordance with the provisions of the NCC Act and its subsidiary regulations, implicated licensees were given till the January 31 to show cause why they should not have their operating licenses either revoked or suspended for their involvement in the illegal act.
“Because of the critical impacts of this nefarious practice on national security and consumer experience, the Commission is determined to decisively deal with any of its licensees implicated in the scam. We do not want to expose the country to any further embarrassment.
“At the very least, serious sanctions would be imposed on them if it is found that their involvement does not justify license or revocation of their licenses,” the statement said.
The commission was said to have followed the provisions of the applicable laws to ensure that the affected licensees were not treated unfairly, given the severity of the sanctions the commission was considering.
Although Mr. Ojobo said the customer experience data monitored showed a noticeable reduction in the volume of masked calls received by subscribers, he said the Commission was determined to continue monitoring.
“We are not taking anything for granted. We will continue to aggressively monitor all our licensees regardless of their size or the scope of their operations. Anyone found wanting would be strictly dealt with in accordance with law” said the NCC official,” Mr. Ojobo said.
SOURCE: Premium Times