The Nigerian Communications Commission explains that it shut the All Progressives Congress SMS code because the service providers breached its guidelines on the use of short codes
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Feb. 9, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
THE Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has justified shutting down the Short Messaging Service, SMS, code meant for fund raising for the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress, APC. The commission said the action of the mobile network operators in running a political advertisement for the APC was not in compliance with the provisions of the NCC guidelines on the use of shot codes in Nigeria.
Tony Ojobo, director public affairs, NCC, who made the clarification on Tuesday, January 27, said the commission did not erred in shutting down the SMS platform because the mobile network operator in question breached the NCC’s guidelines by not applying officially to the commission for approval in accordance with section three (3) of the NCC’s Act. The section states: “The Commission shall receive written notification from the licensees for all advertisements for goods and services within a minimum of seven days of the proposed or planned publication of an advertisement, in order to ensure such advertisements meet the minimum standards and requires.”
The NCC has also threatened to sanction any service provider who failed to comply with the commission’s guidelines once the investigations are concluded. Ojobo, who buttressed the NCC’s stands with evidence, wondered why Babatunde Fashola, Lagos state governor, and his party, would accuse the commission of partisanship in the matter, even when the governor passed through the same process before his re-election in 2011.
“In 2010, the Commission based on applications received across party lines had granted codes to be used by political parties to raise funds as well create awareness. We feel a need to clarify certain issues circulating in the press especially in the light of inquiries we have been receiving in the last few days. Prior to Monday, 19th, January, 2015, the commission was inundated with complaints from several subscribers to the effect that they were receiving messages from network operators to vote one political party or the other.
“Our investigations revealed that subscribers in either checking their call balance or receiving end of call notification/alert got messages asking them to vote for one party or the other. Mobile network operators within the industry in Nigeria have various forms of engagements with the subscribers. For mobile network operators to use these platforms to place adverts to their teeming subscribers, the NCC guidelines on adverts and promos require them to notify the Commission seven days prior to such advertisement. Once a short codes have been formally allocated to an a service provider, such provider must use the short code solely for the purpose intended, and should ensure that its operations are in compliance with the provisions of the NCC guidelines on the use of Short Codes in Nigeria,”’ he said.
Ojobo insisted that the NCC is a responsible and independent regulatory agency and that its independence has never been in doubt, pointing out that the sector had witnessed tremendous growth and investment, making it one of the fastest markets in the world.
Governor Fashola, who is the director, Buhari-Osinbajo Presidential Campaign Fundraising Committee, had on Thursday 22, accused the NCC of playing politics with the telecom industry. He said that the party launched the platform for its members to donate to the presidential campaign fund and that immediately after the party announced the launch of the platform, NCC issued a letter to telecom operators not to carry political messages thereby shutting down the SMS platform.
“It is with very deep sadness that I address you all today, because I never expected that I will witness in Nigeria some of the very distasteful and disgraceful conduct that the Federal Government, the PDP and the President have embarked upon, by way of repression of freedoms. I mentioned the commercial nature of the transactions we had with the businesses who were partnering with us and the benefits to the economy. I also stated very clearly that these businesses had no partisan relationship but are providing professional service. I said so, in order to protect their businesses because of the increasing intolerance we were witnessing from the Jonathan and PDP Presidential campaign and some Federal Government agencies that have taken a partisan position,” he said.
According to Fashola, the action of the NCC and by extension the PDP was a clear signal of dark clouds gathering over Nigeria. “Dear compatriots, there are dark clouds gathering, but I remain optimistic that they will yield to a glorious dawn. The promise of Nigeria is greater than the ambition of one man or a political party.”