Senate Asks GSM Operators to Refund Drop Call Money to Customers

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Deji Elumoye and Chuks Okocha in Abuja

The Senate wednesday took a swipe on the activities of GSM operators in the country and gave them thumps down for failing to provide the required quality services to their teeming customers.

The upper chamber also canvassed for the approval of N1.1 billion for the establishment of Civil Defence Academy for the training of civil defence personnel. The chamber noted that 70 percent of the personnel lacked requisite training.

Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, criticised the GSM operators when he opened a public hearing to investigate telecommunications network operators in the country over increasing rate of drop calls.

Lawan asked the GSM operators to refund any money that was paid on drop calls to subscribers.

He said: “The drop calls shortchange consumers. To me, it’s a very serious issue and we have been with it as far as I can remember. We have been shortchanged for a long time. We consider this development unacceptable.

“We mandated our committees to thoroughly investigate the issue of drop calls. This is in the interest of the people we represent and those who only come to Nigeria either for tourism or business or whatever. What happens in Nigeria in terms of the attitude and behavior of the service providers hardly happens anywhere in the world. Maybe the time has come for us to reject it,” Lawan said.

He also accused the regulatory authority, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), of not doing enough to check the sharp practices by the service providers. “NCC will have to sit up. Sometimes, it is either inept or it is simply flowing with the service providers. So we want to see a situation that this public hearing will provide a way out to save us as Nigerians,” Lawan said, adding that the time has come to say “if you can’t perform, get out of the country.”

Also yesterday, a bill seeking the provision of N1.1 billion for the establishment of the Nigerian Civil Defence Academy in Pandogari, Niger State, passed through the second reading at the Senate

According to the sponsor of the bill, Mr. Sani Musa, the establishment of the academy would help in stemming the tide of training deficiencies among personnel of the corp.

Musa stated that 70 percent of the personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) lack basic training due to non-availability of training institution.

His words: “The proposal for the establishment of the Nigerian Civil Defence Academy is a fall out of several internal security challenges we face as a nation, which is clearly becoming overwhelming to our security agencies.

“It has become apparent that efforts have to be made to develop the capacities of supportive security organs such as the NSCDC, who are expected to in conjunction with the Nigerian Police to provide internal security and to attain the highest standards of professionalism.

“This academy will also act as a think tank on domestic security frameworks and serve as an important platform in shaping up the community policing system.”

According to him, financial implication for the establishment of the academy was estimated at N1.126 billion in the first one year of its take-off.

The Senate also yesterday passed for second reading a bill seeking the establishment of Police Academy in Wudil, Kano State.

While the Civil Defence Academy’s establishment bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Interior, which is headed by Senator Kassim Shettima for further legislative work, the Police Academy Bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Police Affairs headed by Senator Haliru Jika for more legislative work.

The two committees would report back to the senate plenary in four weeks.