NCC descends on Lagos firm

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria 

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has descended on Owntel Communications for allegedly offering telecommunications services for which it was not licensed.

The regulator’s Enforcement Team visited the office of Owntel on Isheri Road in Ojodu, a suburb of Lagos impounded some of the equipment it uses for its illegal operations.

According to the regulator, Owntel has been offering services on vehicle tracking, as well as sales and installation of fixed and mobile telecommunication terminals, without operational licence.

NCC described the act as defrauding the Federal Government of revenue which would have come from licensing fees and others.

Led by its Head of Enforcement, Mr. Salisu Abdul, the regulator said aside from offering vehicle tracking devices, the firm was also involved in the sale and installation of telecoms equipment such as closed circuit television (CCTV) camera, terminal, routers and modems, including walkie talkies and other mobile devices.

NCC argued that any person or group of persons that intend to be involved in such businesses must be competent and obtain operational licence from it before venturing into such business.

Abdul who spoke to reporters said, "Owntel is providing telecommunication services, especially vehicle tracking services, which involve network and data services that require licence, yet it is operating without any licence."

He said NCC decided to descend on the firm after months of close monitoring, adding that it had in October 8 this year, written to its management warning it of the implications of its action, and gave it time to respond to the letter and begin the process of registration. He said the firm, instead of heeding the wise counsel, turned the other cheek and continued with its illegal business.

Owntel refused to speak with reporters and the NCC’s team. Its manager was however heard shouting aloud that the company had started the process of licensing but has not completed it.

Head of Licensing at NCC, who was part of the NCC enforcement team, Mr. Mohammed Abaji said if Owntel had started the process of licensing, as claimed by the manager, the company would have completed the process long ago, as it takes only two days to process and complete registration process for licensing operations for sales and installations, while it takes 90 days to complete the registration and licensing for vehicle tracking services.

He advised customers to be careful in dealing with telecoms service providers, and always insist that the registration and licence number of any telecoms operator be printed on the receipt they issue to customers, as directed by the NCC.

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