Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, has ordered the Nigerian Communication Commission to deactivate automatic voicemail on existing phone lines.
This is contained in a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday and signed by the minister’s spokesperson, Uwa Suleiman.
According to the statement, subscribers are given an option to activate the voicemail via a code.
This is coming six days after the Nigerian government granted NCC more time to resolve illegal data deduction.
Mr Pantami had given directives to NCC to resolve other related issues.
Read the full statement below:
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 Voicemail service should be accessed at the discretion of the subscriber and not by default.
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.
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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.
In the light of this, Dr Pantami has issued a broad policy directive to the sector regulator 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.
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 practice.