BY GLORIA USMAN, ABUJA – Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has said that is worrisome and totally unacceptable, that telecoms subscribers incur financial charges for a service they are compelled to use by default.

Pantami said the trend by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the country, to exploit phone users financially through the automatic activation of the voicemail service on their platforms is fraudulent.

The minister noted that the practice has gained momentum in recent times, stressing that voicemail service should be accessed at the discretion of the subscriber and not by default. 

He noted that voicemail is not a popular service among mobile phone users in Nigeria, coupled with the language challenge among rural dwellers, who mostly do not understand the language deployed by the networks. 

Pantami said; “It is apparent that the recent clampdown on the exploitative activities of some Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), in the country, has beamed the searchlight on the sector properly, and some unpatriotic elements in the system are devising subtle, ingenious methods of defrauding Nigerians”. 

The minister said that the Federal Government through the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy will neither overlook any acts, regardless of how subtle, that undermines the anti-corruption crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari, nor condone any attempt to defraud Nigerians and indeed subscribers.

Accordingly, Pantami has issued a broad policy directive to the sector regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to immediately ensure that issues regarding automatic voicemails are addressed on all existing phone lines and the subscribers, given the option of accessing the service via an activation code.

The minister further said; “It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the rights of consumers are protected, while providing a conducive business environment for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), in line with global best practices.

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