The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says the ultimate penalty of suspension and licence revoking will be administered to some of the interconnect exchanges and other licensees involved in masking international calls, within the next week.
Call masking is the practice of causing the telephone network to indicate to the receiver of a call that the originator of the call is a station other than the true originating station. For example, a Caller ID might display a phone number different from that of the telephone from which the call was placed.
BusinessDay gathered from sources in the NCC that senior operatives from Nigeria’s security services met with representatives of the said licensees at the Commission’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 yet another opportunity to defend themselves.
“The Commission has on several occasions explained to operators, the dangers of call masking as a security threat. There is a reason why SIM card registration was made compulsory, because all numbers need to have source to which it can be traced,” our source says.
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 reason why the regulator should neither suspend their operations nor revoke their operating licences 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 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 licences,” an official of the Commission familiar with the matter, says.
It was further disclosed that the Commission had taken the pains to very strictly follow the provisions of the applicable laws so that one could claim to be unfairly treated, given the severity of the sanctions the Commission was planning to impose.
However, customer experience data monitored by the Commission indicate that there has been a noticeable reduction in the volume of masked calls being received by subscribers.
Medallion Communications Limited, Interconnect Cleaning House Nigeria Limited, Niconnx Communication Limited, Breeze Micro Limited, Solid Inter-connectivity and Exchange Telecommunications Limited have been named as some of the licensees involved in masking international calls.