Government mulls check on telecoms operators' licensing agreement

By The Citizen

Irked by increasing complaints from subscribers, the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, has directed operators to stop fraudulent and unauthorized charges being imposed on customers on the various networks or they would face severe sanctions.

The minister, also implored the operators to consider rolling over the monthly-unused data bundle by subscribers to the new month, warning that no operator should wipe out the unused data of any subscriber going forward.

Also, Shittu hinted of plans by the government to look into the various agreements reached with the operators during issuance of licences to check whether there is any aspect of non-compliance.

Speaking at a meeting with the operators in Abuja, the minister noted that his office has been inundated with complaints, petitions and calls on the fraudulent and unauthorized charges by GSM operators in the country and urged the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to properly monitor telecoms operators and prevent them from dubious charges for services not rendered.

He noted that many Nigerians have been complaining of deduction for unsolicited messages, caller tunes, among others.

The minister also asked the operators to address the issues of incessant drop calls, dead or silent calls and the poor quality of service on their networks.

Shittu insisted that henceforth, the operators should properly investigate all tariff plans introduced by telecommunications operators to ensure that there are no hidden charges.

He said: 'It has come to my notice that telecommunications operators do not fully declare to government their total yearly gross revenue, thereby shortchanging the government in underpaid taxes and levies. The federal government will take advantage of new technologies to verify the amount of revenue generated by telecoms operators through government agencies like NCC and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS)'.

The minister pointed out those professional jobs, including menial jobs meant for Nigerians, but are being taken over by foreigners are in contravention of the Expatriates Quota as enshrined in the nation's laws.

According to him, 'it has also come to my notice that some company had laid off a high number of Nigerian employees in the last two years and outsourced most of its operations to foreigners who are evading tax because of non-documentation by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) for instance, the Chinese, Indians and Lebanese'.

'Some of these foreigners came into Nigeria on visitors visa but ended up working without permit. This practice is prevalent across all the mobile operators. The federal government is already investigating this and any operator found wanting would be severely sanctioned'.

The minster described as unfair the discrepancy and discrimination against Nigerian employees by telecommunications operators. The Guardian