NCC explains why it shut down APC’s SMS platform

The Nigerian Communications Commission,(NCC) on Tuesday, cleared the air on its action to shut down the use of funds raising SMS by the All Progressive Congress (APC) adding that the mobile network operator running political advertisement for APC did that without taking into cognizance laid down guidelines as stated by the use of shot Codes in Nigeria.

Mr Tony Ojobo, the Director of Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission, gave this justification at the NCC headquarters in Abuja during a media chat with pressmen organised by the Commission.

He stated that, the Commission’s action to shut down the SMS platform was not wrong, given that the telecom operator in picture failed to honour section 3 of NCC’s guidelines, by not seeking approval g officially to the Commission for approval in accordance with section 3 of the NCC’s Act.

The NCC Director of Public Affairs said the section reads in parts: ‘‘the Commission shall receive written notification from the licensees for all advertisements for goods and services within a minimum of seven days of the proposed or planned publication of an advertisement, in order to ensure such advertisements meet the minimum standards and requires.’’

Also, the Commission has threatened to sanction all mobile network providers involved and which did not seek approval in line with the body’s guidelines will be sanctioned upon conclusion of investigation.

He further stated that the NCC’s has evidence, wondering why Babatunde Fashola and his party would stand to accuse the body of being partisan in the way it is handling the issue, knowing well that the Governor in 2011 re-election process used the same medium.

‘‘In 2010, the Commission based on applications received across party lines had granted Codes for use by political parties to raise funds as well create awareness.

‘‘We feel a need to clarify certain issues circulating in the press especially in the light of inquiries we have been receiving in the last few days. Prior to Monday, 19th, January, 2015, the Commission was inundated with complaints from several subscribers to the effect that they were receiving messages from network Operators to vote one political party or the other.

‘‘Our investigations revealed that subscribers in either checking their call balance or receiving end of call notification/alert got messages asking them to vote for one party or the other. Mobile network operators within the industry in Nigeria have various forms of engagements with the subscribers.

Ojobo stated that, ‘‘For mobile network operators to use these platforms to place adverts to their teeming subscribers, the NCC guidelines on adverts and promos require them to notify the Commission seven days prior to such advertisement,’’.

He explained, ‘‘Once a short codes have been formally allocated to an a service provider, such provider must use the short code solely for the purpose intended, and should ensure that its operations are in compliance with the provisions of the NCC guidelines on the use of Short Codes in Nigeria.

‘‘in effect, the solicitation to the subscribers to vote one party or the other after end of all notification or balance inquiry amounts to an advert of which the network operators are obliged to notify the Commission based on the above provisions, which they did not do and this is a breach of the guidelines,’’.

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