Fresh facts have emerged as to how the short code for the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) fundraising campaign was withdrawn from telecoms operators, which may have exonerated the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) of the allegation that it gave orders for the withdrawal.
NCC had earlier denied the allegation that the commission gave orders to telecoms operators to withdraw the Short Message Service (SMS) code, which the APC wanted to use for its fundraising campaign.
But the NCC had clarified that it did not at any time order GSM operators to shut the platforms used by political parties to raise funds.
The Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah, specifically said there was never a time NCC tampered with any platform of APC for its campaign fund raiser, as alleged.
THISDAY however gathered that NCC had on April 16, 2013, approved the allocation of the short code 35350, and 34350 to TextNigeria for multiple service and Big Brother Africa campaign respectively and advised TextNigeria to use the short codes for the purpose they were approved, and in compliance with the provision of the NCC Act 2013 as well as the guidelines on short code operation in Nigeria.
THISDAY investigation showed that the short code in question is not the short code allocated by NCC for Big Brother Africa. The short code allocated for Big Brother Africa was 34350.
It was however gathered that the short code 35350 was allocated by NCC to TextNigeria for multiple services and that TextNigeria later assigned the 35350 short code to his client to configure the keyword ‘APC’ on the short code platform for political campaign, pending network approval, but the client advertised the short code before TextNigeria could submit the service for approval by the network operator.
The service was advertised by the client, without TextNigeria giving the client the permission to start running the service campaign.
Worried by the action of the client, TextNigeria then ordered the network operator to withdraw the service from its network, since it had not concluded the business plan with the client, before running the campaign, THISDAY exclusively gathered.
TextNigeria had written to NCC to exonerate itself from the issue, insisting it did not breach any agreement reached between it and the NCC.
An inside source told THISDAY that TextNigeria, on January 28, 2015, wrote NCC to explain that it did not divert the short code allocated by NCC for Big Brother Africa or avoid due process for service launch approval.
The letter further said the document for the short code allocation by NCC was presented to the network operator on January 26, during a meeting it had with the network operator.
“At no time did the APC, Governor Babatunde Fashola or any party for that matter, enter into any agreement with the NCC for campaign services. The only time we got to know of this was when subscribers began to inundate our offices with complaints that their privacies were being invaded through unsolicited text messages for votes by the political party,” Juwah said in a statement.