The Nigerian Communications Commission has discovered over eight million illegal forceful subscriptions to telecoms services.
The telecoms regulator said this was discovered after an audit exercise of forceful mass activations of telecoms subscribers into various value added services was conducted in December last year.
In a report on its enforcement activities, the commission said a full audit had been carried out on 45 VAS providers that had over 65 per cent forceful subscriptions.
“We identified over 8,443,367 illegal mass activations in the last audit exercise and established the fact that these practices of unauthorised mass activations of subscribers were widespread and rampant in the telecoms industry,” NCC said in the report.
The action was taken following numerous complaints by subscribers that the Do-Not-Disturb facility introduced by the NCC had not stopped loss of airtime to Mobile Network Operators for unsolicited services.
The commission in May last year had issued a directive that Mobile Network Operators should desist from forcefully subscribing users to telecoms services or face sanctions.
In a statement last year informing the public of its investigations, the industry regulator said the audit team analysed subscribers’ call detail records from MNOs and subscription logs from VAS providers over a period of two years, leading to the conclusion that a huge percentage of VAS services were not voluntarily subscribed for.
Based on the outcome of the investigative audit, the commission promised to direct the indicted organisations to make refunds to affected consumers as appropriate.
NCC added that it would impose appropriate sanctions as necessary and may suspend or decommission some VAS platforms and services in the overall interests of consumers.
“The audit team also found that some providers had implemented disingenuous mechanisms by which a large number of innocent consumers were forcefully subscribed to VAS platforms, leading to a regular deduction of their airtime without their consent,” it said.