The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says it will impose the maximum possible penalties on any of its licencees implicated in masking of international telephone calls.
The regulatory body announced this on Monday in Lagos, in a statement by its Director of Public Affairs, Mr Tony Ojobo.
The statement said it was likely that the operating licences of some of the interconnect exchange and other licencees involved in the practice would either be revoked or suspended in the coming week.
Twillio, an online Communications glossary, says masked calling is a technique used in e-commerce to protect buyers’ and sellers’ personal phone numbers private.
It uses a short-lived phone number for each party, allowing them to communicate seamlessly during a specified time period.
The suspected licencees include Medallion Communications Ltd, Interconnect Cleaning House Nig. Ltd, Niconnx Communication Ltd, Breeze Micro Ltd, Solid Interconnectivity and Exchange Telecommunications Ltd.
It said that the commission and senior operatives from the nation’s security services met with representatives of the licencees at the commission’s Abuja office on January 24.
The statement said that the companies were confronted with some of the evidence at the disposal of the commission and were given another opportunity to defend themselves.
”In accordance with the provisions of the Nigerian Communications Act and its subsidiary regulations, the implicated licencees have been given till the Jan. 31 to show cause why the commission should not either revoke or suspend their operating licences.
“(This is) in view of evidence of their involvement now at the disposal of the commission and the security agencies.
”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 licencees 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 revocation of their licences,” the statement said.
It said that the regulatory body had taken the pains to very strictly follow the provisions of the applicable laws, so that no one could claim to be unfairly treated, given the severity of the planned sanctions.
The statement added that customer experience data monitored by the commission indicated that there was a noticeable reduction in the volume of masked calls being received by subscribers.
It said that this was reflective of the very aggressive measures the commission had taken to deal with the menace.
“Nonetheless, we are not taking anything for granted. We will continue to aggressively monitor all our licencees, regardless of their sizes or the scope of their operations.
”Anyone found wanting would be strictly dealt with in accordance with the law,” it said.