The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has ordered the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to immediately ensure that issues regarding automatic voicemails are addressed on all existing phone lines in the country.
In a statement on Thursday signed his spokesperson, Mrs Uwa Suleiman, Pantami condemned the latest trend of “financial exploitation” by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs).
The major MNOs in Nigeria are Airtel, Glo, MTN, 9mobile.
The statement noted that the exploitation was through the automatic activation of the Voicemail Service on their platforms.
The Minister explained that based on the recent reports reaching his office, the practice has gained momentum in recent times, adding that voicemail service should be accessed at the discretion of the subscriber and not by default.
Pantami described the act as worrisome and totally unacceptable, that telecoms subscribers incur financial charges, for a service they are compelled to use by default.
According to him, 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.
“The subscribers should be given the option of accessing the service via an activation code.
“Some unpatriotic elements in the system are devising subtle, ingenious methods of defrauding Nigerians.
“The Ministry under my leadership will neither overlook any acts, regardless of how subtle, that undermine the Anti-Corruption Crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari, nor condone any attempts to defraud Nigerians and all subscribers.
“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,” Pantami said.
It would be recalled that on November 5, the minister ordered the NCC to get telecommunication operators to reduce the prices of data in the interest.