Story By Ibiyemi Mathew and Ikenna Odionye, Abuja
The Honourable minister of Communications and Digital economy, Dr. Isa Pantami has ordered the deactivation of automatic voicemails by mobile network operators in the country.
The minister has directed the Nigerian Comm-unications 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.
He described the act as a subtle act of fraud, expressing that Voicemail services should be accessed at the discretion of the subscriber and not by default.
In a statement signed by spokesperson to the Honourable Minister, Mrs. Uwa Suleiman stated,”The attention of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, has been drawn to the latest trend of financial exploitation by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the country, through the automatic activation of the Voicemail Service on their platforms.
“Based on recent reports reaching the office, the practice has gained momentum in recent times.
“The Honourable Minister finds it worrisome and totally unacceptable, that telecoms subscribers incur financial charges, for a service they are compelled to use by default. 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 these networks.
“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 Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy under the current leadership of Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), will neither overlook any acts, regardless of how subtle, that undermine the Anti Corruption Crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, nor condone any attempts to defraud Nigerians and indeed, all subscribers.”
“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the rights of consumers are protected, while providing a conducive business environment for MNOs, in line with global best practice,”the statement added.