By Richard Abu
Any telecommunications operators found to be involved in call masking will by sanctioned by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NNC).
The industry regulator threatened on Monday to impose the maximum possible penalties on any of its licensees implicated in the practice of masking of international telephone calls.
NCC said that it could go to the extent of ensuring that the operating licenses of some of the interconnect exchange and other licensees involved in the practice will either be revoked or suspended in the coming week.
In a press statement issued by NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, Mr. Tony Ojobo, he said that the commission and senior operatives from the nation’s security services met with representatives of the said licensees at the agency’s Abuja offices on Wednesday last week to confront them with some of the evidence at the disposal of the commission and to give them another opportunity to defend themselves.
Ojobo said that in accordance with the provisions of the Nigerian Communications Act and its subsidiary regulations, the implicated licensees have been given till January 31 to show cause why the NCC should not either revoke or suspend their operating licenses in view of evidence of their involvement such sharp practices.
An official of the NCC added that, “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.”
Ojobo disclosed that the NCC had taken the pains to strictly follow the provisions of the applicable laws so that no one can claim to be unfairly treated, given the severity of the sanctions the commission plans to impose on them.
Meanwhile, customer experience data monitored by the NCC has indicated that there has been a noticeable reduction in the volume of masked calls being received by subscribers.
“This is reflective of the very aggressive measures the Commission is taking to deal with the menace. “Nonetheless, 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.
The licensees involved include Medallion Communications Limited, Interconnect Cleaning House Nigeria Limited, Niconnx Communication Limited, Breeze Micro Limited, Solid Interconnectivity and Exchange Telecommunications Limited.