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NCC shuts First Bank branches

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

The regulator of Nigeria's telecoms sector, the Nigerian Communications Commission's (NCC) enforcement team has shut down the New Ring Road Branch of First Bank of Nigeria in Ibadan, and the Alagbaka branch of the same bank in Akure, over illegal use of the 5.40 GHz frequency band, which is licensable in Nigeria.

Led by Efosa Idehen, the team stormed both banks and discovered that the frequencies are being illegally used.  They also served their officials with warrants of arrest for illegal use of licensable frequencies, thereby denying the Federal Government the revenues accruable from these resources.

The enforcement action, which was carried out with the security personnel, paralysed activities at both branches of the banks as the disappointed customers were forced out of the premises of the banks.

Idehen said that the use of illegal frequency band by the bank is against the prescriptions of the Communications Act 2003.  At Ibadan, officials of the bank mounted resistance to the enforcement activities, resulting in its Operation Manager being arrested and taken to the Iyaganku Police station by the police for obstructing the activities of the enforcement team of the Commission and refusing to lead them to the bank’s server room, to enable them isolate the equipment. The case was different at Akure branch where the officials of the bank fully cooperated with the enforcement team of NCC.

Idehen, who spoke to journalists later, said that the Commission had forewarned all those transmitting illegally on these channels through public notices in the media and that those in contravention would be taken to court.

He said the exercise is a continuous one being carried out in various states of the Federation and wondered why some of the banks are still illegally using these frequencies when they were not licensed to operate on them. He said it would appear that the banks are the major culprits in the illegal use of frequencies in the 5.40Ghz spectrum band.

Speaking specifically on the Ibadan branch case, Idehen said the bank will remain shut until the 5.40GHz equipments are isolated and the indoor and outdoor units removed from the bank and taken to the police station.

He commended the police for their support in ‘sanitising’ Nigerian air space. He stated that the 5.40GHz is meant for data communication and can only be issued by companies licensed by the Nigerian communications Commission.

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