• NCC briefs secu rity agencies on implications

Emma Okonji

MTN Nigeria has suffered huge losses as a result of the nationwide picketing of its offices by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) leading to a complete shutdown of its head office in Falomo, Ikoyi, Lagos and its regional offices nationwide.
THISDAY’s investigation revealed that the offices were under lock since Monday, forcing the staff of the telecoms company to render only skeletal services from their homes.

Although the continuous lock of its offices is causing the telecoms company huge financial losses, which is also affecting all MTN partners that manage MTN Connect Stores across the country, the company however, said yesterday, that it was still calculating its losses.

The company added that what was paramount to it was to ensure that its services to its over 60 million subscribers were up and running.

Corporate Relations Executive at MTN, Mr. Tobechukwu Okigbo, told THISDAY that the company was more concerned about the impact of the continued closure of its offices nationwide on the economy, rather than counting the financial losses.

“We are still looking at the financial losses, but what is more important to us right now is ensuring that all services are up,and running. It is not always about money lost by MTN, it is about impact on our subscribers and the economy also,” Okigbo said.

Worried about the ugly situation where MTN staff is compelled to work virtually from home, and the implication it will have on the telecoms network, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has briefed the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) on the implications such continued closure of MTN offices would cause on the network.

NCC has also briefed the security agencies on the developments, particularly the implications of the attempt to shut down the Ojota switch station.

A collapse of the telecommunications grid is likely, if these attacks on MTN and other telecom facilities are not abated, the commission had said in a statement.

NCC had also stressed that the telecoms infrastructure remained classified as critical national infrastructure under the Cyber Security Act domiciled with the ONSA.

According to the statement, the NCC under the leadership of its Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Garba Umar Danbatta, has opened talks with other critical stakeholders through the office of the executive commissioner, stakeholders’ management, Mr. Sunday Dare, on the issue.

According to the statement, the regulator is working behind the scene to protect telecoms infrastructure and minimise telecoms service distruptions, in order not to compromise national security, quality of service and protection of over 160 million subscribers across networks.

Meanwhile, the Association of Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ATCON) has warned on the implications of vandalised facilities during the picketing of MTN offices on Monday this week by NLC.

According to the statement signed by its Executive Secretary, Mr. Ajibola Olude, “the association sees the nationwide disruptions of its member’s operations as unnecessary action and an attempt to frustrate and sabotage the efforts of our member to provide a seamless communication services to all Nigerians. We are even worried that the picketers became so violent and tempered with telecoms facilities during demonstration.”

“We would appreciate NLC to write to us before embarking on any demonstration that can put the security of the country in jeopardy. Our members are law abiding corporate organisations that have been contributing to the wealth of Nigeria”, Olude added.