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FG directs NCC, telcos to resolve all voicemail issues

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Isa Pantami

The federal government of Nigeria through the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami has directed the telecom industry regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to ensure that issues regarding automatic voicemails are addressed on all existing phone lines and the subscribers, given the option of accessing the service via an activation code.

The directive was contained in a statement from the office of the Minister, signed by the Spokesperson, Uwa Suleiman (Mrs).

The latest directive, according to the statement is based on reports at the disposal of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, on “latest trend of financial exploitation by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the country, through the automatic activation of the Voicemail Service on their platforms”.

“Based on recent reports reaching the office, the practice has gained momentum in recent times.

“The Voicemail service should be accessed at the discretion of the subscriber and not by default.

“The Honourable Minister finds it worrisome and totally unacceptable, that telecoms subscribers incur financial charges, for a service they are compelled to use by default. Voicemail is not a popular service among mobile phone users in Nigeria, coupled with the language challenge among rural dwellers, who mostly do not understand the language deployed by these networks.

“It is apparent, that the recent clampdown on the exploitative activities of some Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the country, has beamed the searchlight on the sector properly, and some unpatriotic elements in the system are devising subtle, ingenious methods of defrauding Nigerians.

“The Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy under the current leadership of Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), will neither overlook any acts, regardless of how subtle, that undermine the Anti Corruption Crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, nor condone any attempts to defraud Nigerians and indeed, all subscribers.

“In the light of this, Dr Pantami has issued a broad policy directive to the sector regulator Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to immediately ensure that issues regarding automatic voicemails are addressed on all existing phone lines and the subscribers, given the option of accessing the service via an activation code.

“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the rights of consumers are protected, while providing a conducive business environment for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), in line with global best practice”, the statement concludes.

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Darkness across Nigeria as national grid collapses again

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The national grid on Thursday experienced its first collapse in 2020 resulting in blackout across the country.

The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) confirmed the development in a statement on its Twitter page which was obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

“There was system disturbance which occurred at about 12.34 p.m affecting some parts of the country.

“As at 1:10 p.m, supply was restored to Abuja and most parts of the affected areas. TCN is still working to completely restore and stabilise the nation’s grid,” it said.

Ikeja Electric (IE) which also confirmed the grid collapse in a statement on its Twitter account, said another collapse of the grid occurred at 2.15 p.m after the previous incident.

“Dear customers, the outage you are experiencing is due to a system collapse of the grid which occurred this afternoon at 12:36 p.m. All parts of IE’s network are affected.

“Another system collapse was recorded at 2.15 p.m today. Restoration efforts are ongoing. Kindly bear with us,” the electricity distribution company said.

NAN reports that the national grid collapsed more than 10 times in 2019.

(NAN)

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Uzodinma issues order freezing all Imo bank accounts

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The governor-elect of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma, has issued an order freezing all bank accounts belonging to the state government with effect from January 14, 2020.

According to an ‘Order of Post No Debit’ issued by Director-General, Hope Uzodinma’s Campaign Organisation, Chief Cosmas Iwu, to all financial institutions and the Accountant-General of Imo State, no bank is to honour any transaction from the government of Chief Emeka Ihedioha or his officials.

The document, which was issued on January 14, 2020, titled ‘Order of Post No Debit on all accounts of Imo State Government Effective Immediately 14th January 2020’, reads:

“Following the Supreme Court judgment of 14th January 2020, I am directed by His Excellency, Senator Hope Uzodinma to take this to your authority/instruction to place a Post No Debit (PND) order on all accounts of the Imo State Government maintained in your various institutions.

“You are by this letter, directed to comply and await further instructions from the office of His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Imo State.”

Senator Uzodinma was yesterday declared the dully-elected governor of Imo State following a Supreme Court judgment which sacked the administration of Chief Emeka Ihedioha.

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Reps slams Buhari over transfer of NBET to finance ministry

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The House of Representatives has described as illegal and unconstitutional, a directive by President Muhammadu Buhari that the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company Limited (NBET) be domiciled under the Ministry of Finance.

Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Power, Mr. Aliyu Magaji (APC, Jigawa), declared that it should, therefore, be returned to the Ministry of Power.

The Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company Limited, which was created through the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, currently operates under the Ministry of Finance due to a recent order of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Reps committee overruled the president at a meeting between the Ministry of Power, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), electricity distribution companies (Discos) and other stakeholders at the National Assembly on Monday on the executive’s proposed electricity tariff increment.

The lawmakers explained that the law that put NBET under the power ministry has not been repealed and as such, it is illegal and unconstitutional to say it has been transferred to the supervision of the finance ministry.

Addressing the committee, acting permanent secretary of the Ministry of Power, Mr Ahmed Abdul, who represented the minister, Saleh Mamman, said they were informed of the presidential directive that NBET is now under the supervision of the Finance ministry.

Magaji and members of the committee, however, opposed the move which they described as illegal and unconstitutional.

“We are talking of the law; I am sure somebody must have misled somebody somewhere. This law (putting NBET under Ministry of Power) is yet to be repealed or reviewed. So, NBET still remains in the Ministry of Power as far as this parliament is concerned, unless we change the law.”

Meanwhile, the legislators also asked the regulatory agency to give account of the N213 billion Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility (NEMSF) disbursed by the Central Bank of Nigeria to power distribution companies without commensurate result in services rendered to Nigerians.

The minister’s representative could not respond to the question and other raised at the meeting.

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