The Nigerian Communications Commission has imposed a total fine of N2.79bn on telecommunication companies for forced or automatic data and value-added services’ subscription.
The commission, in its compliance monitoring and enforcement report for the third quarter of this year, said the infraction of its directive against such forced subscription was discovered during an audit carried out in September.
The industry regulator said Airtel had been fined N2.397bn; 9mobile, N164.362m; and Globacom was asked to pay N232.576m as fine.
However, the NCC did not state the fine imposed on MTN.
“During an audit carried out by the commission from September 25-28, 2019, it was discovered that Airtel, MTN and Globacom forcefully subscribed some customers to data and value-added services in contravention of the commission’s directive on forceful subscription,” the report said.
The NCC said letters were sent to Airtel, MTN and Globacom, directing them to make the required refunds before September 27, 2019 and furnish the commission with the details on or before October 4, 2019.
The commission confirmed that some refunds had been made by the operators and the relevant documentation forwarded to the NCC.
“While the letters conveying the fines which include Airtel – N2,397,084,000; EMTS – N164, 362,000 and Globacom – N232, 576,000 have been sent respectively,” the report added.
After the audit of subscribers’ call detail records from the operators and subscription logs from VAS providers over a period of two years, the commission had last year promised to direct the indicted organisations to make refunds to affected consumers as appropriate.
The NCC added that it would impose appropriate sanctions to culpable network providers and VAS operators.
Highlighting other sanctions in the report, the NCC said the Comviva Technologies Nigeria Limited was sanctioned with an administrative fee of N2m, following a breach of the commission’s regulations regarding change of company shareholding structure.
The NCC said it approved a monthly payment plan beginning from September 2019 and ending December 2019 to complete the payment of the sanction, adding that Comviva had commenced payment.
Also, the latest enforcement report stated that the commission discovered locations where SIM cards were purchased and registered in contravention of the directive on SIM card registration in a controlled environment in Oyo State.
It added, “A pre-enforcement letter was sent to the respective operators to show cause why the appropriate sanction should not be imposed on them for the breach in accordance with the commission’s directive on SIM card registration in a controlled environment and the Nigerian Communications (Enforcement Process, etc.) Regulations, 2019.”
According to the NCC, the sale of fraudulently registered SIM cards was also discovered in Abia State between September 10 and 13, 2019.