The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on Tuesday stated that it would sanction the Value Added Service (VAS) provider for breach of the commission’s regulation and for its unprofessional conduct in misleading the All Progressives Congress (APC) to use its Short Code platform for political advertisement and fund mobilisation for campaign purposes.
It said the order instructing the network providers to shut down the portals of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and that of APC was done without any ulterior motive.
While showing evidence of a letter dated January 19: NCC/CAB/GEN/2015/Vol/.1/003, addressed to all the political parties, the NCC however admitted that the parties have the right to use short code portal for advertisements, adding that NCC has to be notified seven days before the roll out of such text messages to the public.
Addressing the media in Abuja on what it termed inundation of complaints from several subscribers over messages from network operators to vote for one political party or the other, NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, Mr. Tony Ojobo, said all licensees are under obligation to operate within the framework of the rules and regulations of the commission.
While referring to the shut-down of APC portal last week, he said: “In this particular instance, we have the guidelines on the use of short code and (Section 4.4) of the guideline says short codes once allocated must be used for the purpose to which it was intended.
“In this case the use of that short code was not for the purpose that it was intended and that was why the letter was written and therefore we have an enforcement processes for regulation that defines the fines for any infraction.
“As much as possible, we have always applied these rules consistently in such a way that there will be enough deterrent for future occurrence and in this case therefore, we will be guided by the enforcement processes and regulation and apply the fines accordingly.”
According to him, the PDP applied for short code in 2010 and was granted because it followed all due processes while in 2011, Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State also got approval for the use of the short code because the rules and regulation were also adhered to.
He, however, stated that NCC did not receive any application from the APC client, adding: “On this matter, the commission neither got application from the VAS. We saw just like other Nigerians receiving SMS’ on their mobile devices. For NCC as a regulatory body, we thought that was a breach.
“The commission is not against raising of fund using short code. What we are saying is that the guidelines should be followed. These guidelines were not created for elections purpose anyway, the guidelines were provided for the integrity of network providers and to protect the interest of every Nigerian.”