On 23 January 2018, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) revealed that it may suspend the operational licences of six telco companies in the country, according to a report by Nigerian Communications Week.
The companies have been implicated for their alleged involvement in call masking- a technique used to allow SMS messages to be sent or calls to be made to people without revealing the identity of the sender or caller.
The NCC sent a notice of suspension of licence letters to the six companies which were jointly signed by, Yetunde Akinloye and Efosa Idehen, NCC’s Head of Legal and Regulatory Service and Head of Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement respectively. The NCC said it had established direct and indirect evidence against the six companies: “In the illegal and unwholesome activity of call masking and refiling.” This was after the six companies had been issued with queries by the commission on 12 January for their failure to desist from call masking.
The companies allegedly involved are; Interconnect Clearing House Nigeria Ltd, Medallion Communications Ltd, Niconnx Communications Ltd, Breeze Micro Ltd, Solid Interconnectivity and Exchange Telecommunications Ltd
The issue with call masking is that many criminals, especially kidnappers, are using it to perpetrate their nefarious trade, though some eCommerce companies also use it to advertise, according to the NCC.
The companies were queried following the outcome of an investigation by the NCC to unmask those companies using call masking techniques to pass off incoming international telecoms traffic as local calls into Nigeria.
One of the letters read issued by the NCC in part read: “Having carefully analysed all the relevant data collected in the course of its investigation activities, the Commission has established a direct and indirect evidence against your company in the illegal and unwholesome activity of call masking and refiling. Consequently, the commission, pursuant to Section 45 (1) and (3) of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003 hereby gives you Notice of its Intention to suspend the Interconnect Exchange License granted to your company due to your involvement in call masking and refiling and your failure to rectify the breach, despite repeated interventions by the Commission.”