By Martin Ekpeke
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has admitted that the perpetrators of call masking and refilling have continued to undermine all the regulatory efforts it has deployed to tame the menace, which it described as posing serious threats to the nation’s economy and the security.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, admitted this yesterday in Lagos, while reading his opening remarks at the 85th edition of the telecom consumer parliament, with the theme ‘Overcoming Challenges of Call Masking/Refilling: Task ahead for the Telecom Industry.’
“Despite the regulatory actions, masking of calls has persisted, as telecoms consumers continue to express outrage over call masking much as security agencies constantly put pressures on the commission to find lasting solutions to the menace,” he said.
The effort, according to Danbatta in the remark, which was delivered by Director Consumer Affairs Bureau, Felicia Onwuegbuchulam is the collaboration with different stakeholders and security agencies, which has led to the suspension of six indicted interconnect exchange licenses in February this year.
Not only did the commission suspend the indicted licensees, the regulator also barred about 750 000 numbers assigned to 13 operators from the national network. These numbers, NCC said were suspected of being used for call masking.
Specifically, Danbatta disclosed that concerns have been expressed on several occasions by the office of the National Security Adviser, the National Intelligence Agency, Department Of State Services as well as a committee of the House of Representatives.
Call masking or refilling occurs when an international call is terminated in Nigeria as a local number. The trend became widespread since 2016 when the Nigerian Communications Commission reviewed and implemented the termination rates for international inbound traffic from N3.90 per minute to N24.40 per minute.
Today, it is regarded as one of the most prevalent fraud in the telecom industry as it is estimated to be costing the industry about $3 billion in lost revenue.