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Fraudulent GSM Operation in Country
Posted by: administrator (Jan-31-2009)
Leadership (Abuja)

Buchi Okoli
Any government that is unresponsive and insensitive to the plight of the people under a democracy is irresponsible.
Section 17 (1) (d) of the 1999 constitution states thus: "exploitation of human and natural resources in any form whatsoever for reasons other than the good of the community shall be prevented". Item 46 of part 1 of the second schedule puts Telephones in the Exclusive Legislative List. The main focus of this article the increasing fraudulent practices of GSM operators in Nigeria by way of drop calls and what has become a cliché- Network problem.
The Federal Government has so far handled this matter nonchalantly without the requisite attention for the plight of Nigerians and the attendant wasteful calls they make on a daily basis. It will be illegal of the Government to allow this fraudulent practice to go on unabated. The GSM subscriber has acquired a right to a legally permissible access to the GSM service. The approval to operate a GSM service provider by the Federal Government to any of the present day GSM operators is a blanket testament and vote of confidence on the operator.
Anything short of satisfactory service delivery to the teeming customers is undermining the basic purpose of the licence as granted. The only interpretation of what is happening in the GSM world today is simply economic fraud and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) must have its powers reviewed to clip the wings of these shylock operators who smile to the banks fraudulently at great expense to subscribers. The Federal Government cannot today say that it has provided the country with adequate telecommunication service. The NCC that presumably is the regulating body for all GSM operation in Nigeria seems on a long Rip Van Winkle sleep. The law cannot be locked up in a cellar waiting for this lame edifice to wake up.
The National Assembly has a lot of blame in this regard, as they have abandoned their constitutional roles as lawmakers and law reviewers and now dissipate so much energy in inconclusive probes and ministerial supervisions. Section 16-(1) (3) (a) and (b) of the 1999 constitution posits thus: "A body shall be set up by an Act of the National Assembly which shall have power_
(a) to review, from time to time, the ownership and control of business enterprises operating in Nigeria and make recommendations to the president on same; and
(b) to administer any law for the regulation of the ownership and control of such enterprises".
The foregoing section of the law is resplendent with powers to the National assembly to question the non-performance of GSM operation if Nigeria and make recommendation sot the president who will take appropriate executive decisions in the interest of the teeming people of Nigeria to whom sovereignty belong. The recent bill making its way into the chambers of the assembly is absolutely unnecessary as the crucibles of legislative machinery could be avoided on the altar of the preceding section 16. The National Assembly has woefully failed in its legal duty of making extending its oversight functions to the investigating of the activities of GSM operators in Nigeria. The subscribers are complaining. The Government is making long speeches and the operators are smiling to the bank with large volumes of the Nigerian currency. If this state of affairs continues, then a few questions may be asked thus:
Is the Nigerian Government not aware that GSM subscribers are groaning under the weight of their task master GSM operators in the form of drop calls and inability to connect calls at all?
Are the GSM operators not subject to any guiding rules and directives of operation that have been formulated to make the service provision user friendly?
Could there be any connivance by the GSM operators and influential Nigerians to strictly operate a capitalist network and disregard the satisfactory service delivery virtue?
why has the Government seemingly maintained sealed lips in the face of obvious non-performance of the GSM operation in Nigeria?
The questions could run endlessly but the point of emphasis is that the law does not support the present non user-friendly modus operadi of GSM operators and the attendant illegality must be addressed.
Section 15-(1) (5) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria categorically states thus; "The state shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power". I pause to say that no other act or conduct can qualify as corrupt practice and abuse of power than a situation where a service provider fails to deliver satisfactory service to the customers. Maybe the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) will have a better definition to oblige me with not minding that they may argue that their mandate does not strictly extend to this. I think their mandate should be expanded to monitor goods and services. The legally empowered regulatory bodies like NCC, Ministry of Communications, National Assembly and the 1999 Constitution seem inactive or simply docile in the affairs of the people as far as GSM operation and customer satisfaction is concerned. Any law is made effective by the force of sanctions. Any law that does not address the plight of its citizens is martial law. The preamble to the constitution maintains logically thus: " ----AND TO PROVIDE for a constitution for the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all persons in our country on the principles of Freedom, Equality and Justice and for the purpose of consolidating the unity of our people---". Section 14-(1) (2) (a) (b) states thus: "it is hereby, accordingly declared that-
(a) sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this constitution derives all its powers and authority;
(b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government;-".
If the above position of the law a la the constitution is right and deserves any iota of respect, then the Federal Government should come hard on the GSM operators in the interest of the people of this country whose welfare must be most important to the government. The refusal and/or failure of the National Assembly to set up a body to review the operations of GSM service providers in this country are an act of economic sabotage. The taciturnity and non-proactive concern of the legislature in this matter is condemnable and speaks of inefficiency. This matter is not restricted to any sectional constituency. It affects the national constituency and affects everybody using a GSM phone. The National Assembly has been empowered to administer any law for the regulation of the ownership and control of enterprises operating in Nigeria. This non-satisfactory service of GSM operation in Nigeria should and must form a major oversight function of the National Assembly and this is non-negotiable.

The presidency will fall short of its mandate to secure the welfare of the people of this country who presumably have voted the government into power and to whom sovereign power has been vested in by the constitution. It is instructive to note here that by virtue of section (1) of the 1999 constitution, the supremacy of the constitution is guaranteed with a binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the country. However section (3) states that if any law is inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution, the constitution shall prevail and that other law to the extent of its inconsistency with the constitution shall be void and of no effect. Any law or regulation empowering GSM operation in Nigeria that does not conform to the directive principles of state policy as contained in chapter 2 of the 1999 constitution is ultra vires the body and cannot stand. The essence of GSM operation in Nigeria is to avail the users of quick access via telephone. It must be able to grant them a return on investment by way of ability to make and receive calls. Incessant Network Busy and Drop calls are unpatriotic, illegal, treacherous and unfortunate.

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