Ripples Nigeria findings have uncovered that GSM service providers in the country defraud Nigerians to a whooping tune of about N547bn every year.
Nigeria has 149,787,120 active Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) lines as at November 2015 according to figures from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
At N50 deductible on SMS every five days of subscription, invariably, Nigerians lose over N7.5 billion every five days, and N547b yearly through such unsolicited SMS.
This is not counting other unsolicited SMS that attracts N100 per week, and unsolicited calls that also attract separate charges.
In a move to address the situation, the House of Representatives during the weekend suggested a fine of N5million for GSM providers involved in unsolicited calls and text messages.
According to the lawmakers, unsolicited text messages are a breach to the privacy of phone users and a contravention of their fundamental rights as provided for in the Constitution.
Sponsor of the bill, Hon. Ali Madaki, said the Bill became imperative, as there was no law in the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Act specifically on text messages, which makes it possible for telecommunications service providers to fleece their subscribers through such unsolicited SMS.
According to him, the consumers are at the mercy of the service providers, who have taken full advantage of the absence of such laws to continue defrauding Nigerians.
Equally in the bill, online telemarketing is prohibited without prior consent or application by a subscriber.
However, Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta) among others, said unsolicited text messages does not need to stand alone as laws, as the NCC Act has enough laws to address the issue.
Expectedly, Speaker Yakubu Dogara and the House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila noted that privacy of subscribers should be an issue which the NCC Act was silent on.
The bill was unanimously passed after it was put to a voice vote by the Speaker, who said opinion of experts and stakeholders would be required at the public hearing stage to seek the opinion of Nigerians about unsolicited text messages.
While the debates continue, service providers continue to have a field day, smiling to the bank with the billions fleeced from Nigerian GSM providers.
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