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In recent times, mobile network subscribers in Nigerians have become burdened with the seeming excesses and exploitations meted on them by network service providers due to the fact that the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) saddled with the responsibility of protecting consumers from undue exploitation from network service providers have joined the bandwagon of most government institutions who have abandoned their responsibilities and chosen to compromise standards to the detriment of innocent Nigerians.  

In a recent tweet by a twitter user @CasmirIfejirika, who complained of the nonchalant attitude of the National Communications Commission (NCC) despite his numerous complains via a letter to them concerning the unprofessional action of a staff of MTN in Port Harcourt who seemed to have aided and abetted a fraudster in carrying out a SIM swap of his line without adhering to the stringent security checks to ascertain the owner of the line which eventually led to the transfer of N330,300 (Three Hundred and Thirty Thousand Three Hundred Naira) from his account by the fraudster.

It was gathered that while on a call on the 18th May, 2019, he was perplexed to discover that the call ended with his phone indicating for a SIM card to be inserted in his phone. On enquiry as to the disruption of his conversation and the deactivation of his SIM card on his phone, he was astonished to discover that his line (08060716382) had been swapped by an MTN agent in Port Harcourt at the request of a fraudster.

I used my SIM to make calls on that fateful day; abruptly I had network failure with inscription insert SIM, while my SIM was still intact on my phone. Unknowingly to me, my SIM was swapped and used to transfer N330,000 from my account on 18/5/19 and MTN has refused to accept their liabilities occasioned by their negligence/collusion with the fraudsters that requested for the SIM swap with unsubstantiated claim, but revert to shift the blame to my financial institution. SIM swap guidelines were not followed by the MTN agent (Precious Global) in Port Harcourt. The validation check that should be thoroughly checked to ascertain the ownership of the SIM was not done judiciously. The facial image of the impostor captured in MTN system does not even matched with my facial image in the biometric, but the agent still went ahead and authorized the SIM swap.” stated the tweet.

In confirming the allegations of unprofessionalism by its staff who did not follow the guidelines in carrying out proper verification before facilitating the swap, it is alleged that MTN in a letter dated 29th July, 2019, stated that an individual claiming to be @Casmirlfejirika, requested for the SIM swap which prompted the agent to carry out the swap.

Seeing the nonchalant attitude of MTN in addressing the issue and restoring his line and lost money, @CasmirIfejirika quickly wrote to the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) to exped­ite actions against MTN who has resorted in putting the blame of the unprofessionalism of its staff on the financial institution as the cause of the illegal transfer that occurred through his swapped line. However, to his utmost disappointment, the NCC in their usual style of seemingly turning deaf ears to the plight of network users at the hands of network service providers kept mute to his plight.

In further indicting the NCC, he also stated that “It’s worrisome to note that institutions of Government like NCC saddled with responsibilities to regulate the activities of network providers and to defend innocent consumers from undue exploitation are aiding and abetting crime through unauthorized SIM swap has been compromised. I have formally reported to NCC, but to no avail, it seems they have been compromised. I appeal to NCC to rise up to the occasion and do the needful and exercise the powers conferred by the law in getting back my money.”

It would be recalled that despite having the backing of the law to regulate the activities of network service providers, the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) have looked on as network service providers have overtime extorted consumers with the introduction of compulsory voice mail service which is automatically activated as soon as a receiver does not pick up a call but for the timely intervention of the Minister of Communication Dr Isa Ibrahim Pantami who recently ordered the immediate deactivation of voicemails from all phone lines.

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