By Emma Okonji
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has disclosed plan to deploy a technological solution that will enable tracking of SIM boxes used to perpetuate the fraud.
This is just as members of the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes have commended the NCC over the commission’s prompt intervention in addressing the issue of call masking in the country.
Call masking is a practice where calls are generated from one network to another, with the identity of the caller hidden from the call recipient, aimed at defrauding the call recipient.
Therefore, the lawmakers expressed its satisfaction with the measures so far taken by the NCC with a view to curbing the menace of call masking and refiling in the country.
Speaking while leading other members of the committee to a meeting at the NCC office in Abuja, the Chairman of the committee, Mr. Kayode Oladele, expressed concern about the dangers the menace of call masking portends in the country.
“Within a very short time we are very impressed by the responses and I wish Nigerians could be told about what we have done here today.
“Many people feel that nothing has been done whereas so much has been done, except that if you ask me what we have achieved today I will say that I am leaving here more confused because the problem is bigger than what we thought,” Oladele said at the end of the meeting.
Earlier, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta told the committee that the menace was not peculiar to Nigeria’s telecom industry alone, adding that the agency had assembled a technical team brains to select the best technology solution to be deployed for detecting SIM boxes used by the perpetrators in the country.
“When we notice a phenomenon which is anticompetitive or undermining the security of the land we promptly take actions. In this regard, we have taken some steps to ensure that operators licensed by the commission abstain from the act.
“And we noticed an anecdotal improvement as the numbers came down reasonably. Yet all of a sudden we have an additional dimension, SIM boxing. These are electronic boxes with a capacity to receive and transmit calls.
“We are at a loss how these items of equipment find their way into this country because we don’t type-approve them, and we couldn’t have type-approved them. It’s illegal to bring SIM boxes into the country,” Danbatta pointed out.
According to him, other African countries bedevilled by the same menace of call masking had successfully used technology solutions to tackle it, adding that the commission would soon speed up its procurement process to ensure its deployment in Nigeria.
Speaking further, the NCC boss said the regulator had to resort to taking administrative sanctions on operators including the recall of redundant numbers to ensure that they were not used in undermining the security of the land, among other several measures taken to nip the crisis in the bud.