Reps impressed by NCC measures against call masking

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

Nigeria’s House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes has expressed its satisfaction with the measures so far taken by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) with a view to curbing the menace of call masking and refiling in the country.

The regulator has however vowed to deploy a technology solution that will enable tracking of SIM boxes used to perpetuate the fraud.

Speaking while leading other members of the committee to a high-level meeting at the Headquarters of the Commission in Abuja this week, the Chairman, Hon Kayode Oladele, expressed concerns on the dangers of call masking in the country.

The committee would later listen to presentations on the complex problem from top echelon staff of the regulator led by the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta.

“Within a very short time we are very impressed by the responses and I wish Nigerians could be told about what we have done here today. Many people feel that nothing has been done whereas so much has been done, except that if you ask me what we have achieved today I will say that I am leaving here more confused because the problem is bigger than what we thought,” said Oladele at the end of the meeting.

Earlier, the NCC boss had told the committee that the menace is not peculiar to Nigeria’s telecom industry alone and the agency had already assembled its finest technical brains to select the best technology solution to be deployed for detecting SIM boxes used by the perpetrators in the country.

“When we notice a phenomenon which is anticompetitive or undermining the security of the land we promptly take actions. In this regard, we have taken some steps to ensure that operators licensed by the commission abstain from the act. And we noticed an anecdotal improvement as the numbers came down reasonably. Yet all of a sudden we have an additional dimension, SIM boxing.  These are electronic boxes with a capacity to receive and transmit calls.

“We are at a loss how these items of equipment find their way into this country because we don’t type-approve them, and we couldn’t have type-approved them. It’s illegal to bring SIM boxes into the country,” he pointed out.

According to him, other African countries bedeviled by the same menace of call masking have successfully used technology solutions to tackle it, adding that the commission would soon speed up its procurement process to ensure its deployment in Nigeria.

Speaking further, the NCC boss said that the regulator had to resort to taking administrative sanctions on operators including the recall of redundant numbers to ensure that they were not used in undermining the security of the land, among other several measures taken to nip the crisis in the bud.

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