Nigeria: NCC to sanction 9Mobile over unapproved promo

The embattled telecoms operator, 9Mobile, is set to face another snag as the Compliance and Enforcement Monitoring Unit of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has recommended sanction against the company for violating its rules.

New Telegraph gathered that the telco was found culpable running a promotion not approved by the regulator.

According to the first quarter enforcement and compliance monitoring report on the Commission’s website, 9mobile was carrying out a “ZTE Mf910 4G Mifi Promotion” in which it promised that customers who purchased a 9mobile ZTE MF910 4G mifi device at N18,800 would enjoy 10GB free data valid for 30 days. “Accordingly, we carried out compliance checks in line with the Commission’s Guidelines on Advertisements and Promotions. Having confirmed that the promotion has not been approved by the Commission, it was recommended that 9Mobile be sanctioned for the violation” the report stated.

In addition, the regulator has also queried the telco over its Samsung S9/S9+ promotion, noting that it slightly deviated from what was approved by the Commission.

“Having reviewed the features of the offer approved by the Commission viz-a-viz what is being advertised by 9mobile, the unit observed a slight departure from the Commission’s approval. In addition, 9mobile failed to communicate the conditions of the promotion in clear and understandable terms contrary to Section 4 (xv) of the Commission’s Guidelines on Advertisements and Promotions. Consequently, the case was transferred to Enforcement Unit for necessary action.”

The company, which is currently under interim management, has been facing several challenges since 2017, when a consortium of bank attempted a forceful take-over over an unpaid loan. The incident led to the United Arab Emirate’s Etisalat pulling out of the business and its name was eventually changed to 9Mobile.

However, the process of selling 9Mobile to new investors who would reposition it is also being marred in controversies. Just recently, some shareholders of the company, Afdin Ventures Limited and Dirbia Nigeria Limited – who claimed to be major investors – complained of being left out in the firm’s decision-making and have demanded a refund of their invested funds estimated at $43,330,950. The shareholders had, through their counsel, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), approached an Abuja High Court via a motion ex-parte marked, FHC/ABJ/CR/288/2018 and this led to a recent order by Justice Binta Nyako stopping the sale while ruling on an ex parte motion brought by the shareholders. The order by the court is delaying the bid by Teleology, which is the preferred bidder for the company.

Before that, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Telecommunications, had also threatened to suspend the sale and/or “reverse the process” because of allegations of irregularities from some undisclosed quarters.

However, while legal battle is on, Teleology has until June to fulfil the financial obligations of paying the balance of $450 million. But that is not going to be the last hurdle for the company to take ownership as NCC said it would commence a technical test to ascertain the capability after all the financial rites had been concluded with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The regulator, since the inception of the bidding process, had insisted that it would only release 9Mobile’s license to a technically vibrant company.

Meanwhile, the Commission has said that it continued to receive complaints from telecom subscribers on incidences of forceful subscription of Value Added Services by VAS Providers without the explicit authorisation of the subscriber. It said to investigate the problem, it had directed Mobile Number Operators (MNOs) to provide a list of all value added services and their VAS Providers that are using some subscription methods currently on their network. “We have received submissions from 9Mobile, MTN & Airtel and currently evaluating the submissions,” the regulator said.

The Unit added that it also observed during its monitoring activities that five Value Added Service (VAS) Providers subscribed some telecoms subscribers to some value added services without due authorisation, adding that the affected Service Providers had been directed to explain why they subscribed consumers without their consent.

Source: New Telegraph online

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