Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is said to sanction any telecommunications operator in Nigeria, which engages in forceful subscription and unlawful deductions from consumers.
The Commission disclosed this on 21st December 2018 while describing itself as a consumer-centric regulator. The NCC noted with great displeasure the unacceptably high level of consumer complaints in respect of forceful subscriptions to Value-Added Services (VAS), as well as airtime deductions for these subscriptions.
Some of the measures taking by the Commission include comprehensive investigation and resolution process through the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) facility and the imposition of sanctions for breaches.
Disturbed by the persistent occurrence of the menace despite these measures, the Commission carried out a long and comprehensive investigative audit into VAS subscriptions across all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) platforms.
The investigative audit was led by the Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Department of the Commission, with participation from its other departments such as the Technical Standards and Network Integrity (TSNI), Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB) Legal and Regulatory Services (LRS) and Licensing and Authorization (L&A).
The audit team analyzed subscribers’ call detail records from MNOs and subscription logs from VAS providers over a period of two years, leading to the conclusion that a huge percentage of VAS services were not voluntarily subscribed for.
The audit team also found that some providers had implemented disingenuous mechanisms by which large numbers of innocent consumers were forcefully subscribed to VAS platforms, leading to regular deduction of their airtime without their consent.
Based on the outcome of the investigative audit, the Commission will shortly be directing the indicted organizations to make refunds to affected consumers as appropriate. The commission is also considering, and will impose appropriate sanctions as necessary. This outcome justifies the commission’s commitment to evidence-based interventions.
Also, NCC threatened to suspend or out rightly decommission some VAS platforms and services in the overall interests of consumers.