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Customer Writes Airtel, Demands ₦5m Damages for Illegal Deductions

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Mr. Niyi Bada, a subscriber on Airtel network, has written the management of the telecoms company demanding a ₦5 million compensation for alleged illegal and constant deductions from airtime recharge on his telephone.

 

In the letter written through his solicitors, Niyi Bada & Co, dated January 22, 2018 and addressed to the Managing Director Airtel Nigeria and copied the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the solicitor claimed that its client’s mobile line: 08023308194, has been inundated with ‘numerous text messages’ in the last two years.

 

The letter reads: “We are solicitors to Mr. Niyi Bada hereinafter referred to as our client on whose behalf and instruction we write this letter in respect of the above subject matter.

 

“Our Client informed us that in the last two years his line that he bought in 2003 and which he has put to use ever since has been inundated with numerous text messages informing him about his subscription to numerous services some of which are Video Magic weekly; Mini Start Service; VID Service; Fashion weekly; 2 VID Service; 10 VID Service; VOD; 828; 1 Subscription Service; Goool Club; N – Xpress Fashion Service; Smart now; Hollywood Club and Music Club.”

 

The law firm said his client has made several visits to “your service centre along Oba Akran, Ikeja to complain and to deny ever subscribing to such services and requested that all the subscription be removed and never to be renewed but each time such unsolicited subscriptions were removed, they usually return after a few days with a vengeance and more subscriptions.”

 

“It would appear that your company has a policy to fleece subscribers of their hard-earned money hence the decision to always restore the unsolicited subscriptions even when there were formal and persistent complaints to take them off.”

 

The solicitors said the above subscriptions were neither requested nor solicited by its client but were surreptitiously and fraudulently imposed on him by your company with the clear intention of stealing his hard-earned money.

 

“Our client has never subscribed to any other service provided by your company as he is only interest in making phone calls and sending text messages on his line which your greedy action of deducting money from his airtime recharge for your dubious subscription has now made onerous and expensive.

 

“We hereby demand on behalf of our client that you make a refund of ₦5 million to our Client for all the illegal deductions from his airtime recharge on before the 31st of January 2018 failing which we shall be left with no other option than to seek legal redress before a competent court for your clear illegal actions.”

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Telecom

$1.2bn Debt: 20m 9mobile Subscribers May Be Cut Off

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Some 20 million Nigerians who are subscribers of 9mobile (formerly Etisalat) may be cut off in 2022 as a result of the complications arising from the $1.2 billion loan default by the telco to a consortium of banks.

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Also, over 4,000 staff of the company risk being laid off.

 

Senate investigation said that all these can only be averted if a new buyer emerges, takes over the company and pays off the debt before the 15 years’ operational licence given to the company expires in 2022.

 

This was revealed on Thursday during the investigative hearing by the Senate Committee on Banking and Other Financial Institutions, which is currently investigating the loan default threatening the existence of the 9mobile.

 

Speaking during the hearing, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), represented by Yetunde Akinoye, director of Legal Services, said that in 2007 9mobile was given a 15-year licence to operate in Nigeria, which according to her, will expire in 2022.

 

She said given the financial crisis facing 9mobile, the hope is that a new investor would emerge to take over the company, pay back the consortium of backs the loans which the original owners of the telecom company collected, and also pay for the renewal of the licence to retain the services and subscribers.

 

She said that if this is not possible, the banks, in alliance with their security trustees, may push to enforce the loan conditions, which she explained might involve stripping the telecoms company to recover their investment.

 

Recalling what happened, Akinoye said that NCC, which she said was not privy to the loan agreements, got a letter on the June 21, 2017 from the Security Trustee of 9mobile, notifying the regulatory agency that there is a loan default and that the lenders (banks) want to enforce the legal implication.

 

She said the banks, which had already taken over the telecoms company, wanted the board of 9mobile to be dissolved and a neutral person brought in, preferably the Central bank of Nigeria (CBN).

 

To this end, she said the CBN Governor, who did not want the apex bank to become involved, however dissolved the old board and constituted a new board chaired by the CBN Deputy Governor, to ensure that the 20 million subscribers and 4,000 staff of 9mobile are not left high and dry.

 

On why NCC cannot allow the banks to take full ownership of the company, Akinoye said: “The transfer of licence is not allowed by NCC except under certain conditions but they can transfer the shares. The banks are only interested in getting their money but not to run the company.”

 

She also said that NCC, unlike CBN in the case of banks, does not have powers by the Act establishing it, to take over telecoms companies that are collapsing. Akinoye noted that given the way Mubadala and the associate paid $250 million to get the Etisalat licence, NCC never suspected that anything would go wrong, adding that NCC is already doing a forensic investigation of 9mobile.

 

On her part, Oluseyi Osusador, director of Corporate Affairs of 9mobile, who represented the telecoms company, told the Senate that $82 million and $100 million loans were collected for expansion of their services nationwide. She disclosed that they also collected $1.2 billion loan from a consortium of 13 banks for network expansion across the country in 2015.

 

She added that in the 2016, they paid their obligations as required until the negotiations broke down due to their inability to meet up, adding that efforts to secure a new agreement failed until the investors left, hence they are now looking for a new investor throughout Barclays Bank.

 

Responding to the accusation by senators that it did not follow the due diligence to monitor the loan and prevent the original investor from cashing out rapidly, Dr. Okwu Joseph Nnanna, CBN Director, Financial System Stability, who represented the apex bank at the hearing, said that CBN started intervening in the deal between 9mobile and the 13 banks before the loan started having issues of default.

 

He explained that contrary to comments, CBN did not take over Etisalat but the consortium of banks did based on their rights and legal conditions of the loan which allow them to take over the company at default.

 

Speaking on behalf of the affected banks, Guarantee Trust Bank, represented by Haruna Musa, a Director in the bank, said the banks are the facility agent, pointing out that their role is administrative in nature.

 

Haruna said that until 2015, the facility was performing optimally, adding that in some years, Etisalat paid more than expected, but paid 17% of what was expected in 2017, resulting in the commencement of the default.

 

In its submission, United Capital Trustees Limited, which served as the Security Trustee agent to the loan deal, represented by Tadeni Balogun, said it has other plans on how to deal with the situation but refused to give details.

 

While lamenting the default, Chairman of the Senate Committee, Rafiu Ibrahim, regretted that the loan became problematic three years into the commencement of the payment.

 

He asked the Security Trustee Company to explain how the founding Managing Director of Etisalat left the company, adding that the Senate needed to know if he was forced to leave or left voluntarily.

 

Senator Ibrahim expressed concern that shortly after the investors wrote to NCC, they left immediately and easily.

 

He said these information is necessary because the Senate may have to invite the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to take over the investigation because the committee cannot understand why the investors hurriedly left and NCC and CBN are not doing anything to get the money back, perhaps by engaging the Nigerian President to engage the President of the host country of Etisalat to pay the debt.

 

To this end, he vowed that the Senate will not relent to save the banks and the industry, and the subscribers.

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NCC Board Reassures Stakeholders of Commitment to 9Mobile Sale

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The Board of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reassured Stakeholders of its commitment to ensure that the nation’s fourth largest Mobile Network Operator, EMTS/9Mobile, is duly taken over by investors with the requisite technical capability and pedigree to manage the organisation.

 

Rising from its Board meeting held in Abuja on Thursday, February 22, 2018, the Board affirmed its determination to avoid the recurrence of any missteps that may have led to the current situation.

 

The Board also made it clear that pursuant to the powers conferred on the Commission by the provisions of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 and other instruments in that regard, the Commission will ensure that all relevant statutory and regulatory processes are duly complied with in the process leading up to the emergence of new owners for the company.

 

The Board therefore assured all Stakeholders that the Commission will apply all necessary diligence to see the ongoing sale process through to its logical conclusion in a manner that protects the overall national interest and the seamless operation of the national telecommunications network.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ericsson unlocks IoT Ecosystem with IoT Accelerator Marketplace

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Ericsson is launching the IoT Accelerator Marketplace to help address the need for collaboration within the digital ecosystem community and benefit developers and service providers alike.

For service providers, it is a catalog to find IoT apps from the global ecosystem to offer enterprise customers and provides shorter time to market for new offerings to their enterprise customers.

For application developers and application partners it is a window to an IoT ecosystem to connect with service providers through one single platform, exposing global cellular connectivity APIs. It also includes monetization and settlement capabilities to facilitate monetization and billing across the ecosystem.

Carrie MacGillivray, Group Vice President, Internet of Things & Mobility at Market Intelligence firm IDC, says: “Communications service providers are racing to scale and differentiate in the fast moving IoT market. It’s necessary for these service providers to have a robust developer ecosystem that helps them compete. For developers working across multiple service provider networks and platforms, the challenges of fragmentation are addressed by utilizing APIs that apply globally and are consistent across all mobile networks.”

Jeff Travers, Head of IoT, Ericsson, says: “The launch of IoT Accelerator Marketplace will unlock the potential for different players in the value chain to deliver value. It is another stepping stone to make 5G a reality by enabling massive adoption of massive IoT. This supports service providers as they seek to expose network connectivity IoT APIs and monetize these assets.”

Application developers can benefit from a new go-to-market exposing their offering globally through Ericsson. This will enable app developers to scale their business and at the same time develop applications based on cellular connectivity APIs with added value for enterprises, such as fast and automated device and subscription onboarding, higher security, ubiquitous cellular coverage around the world improved for indoor utilization, and superior handling of battery life.

Service providers and application developers can request access to the IoT Accelerator Marketplace here: IoT Accelerator Marketplace

IoT Accelerator Marketplace is being demonstrated by Ericsson at MWC 2018. Ericsson’s IoT Accelerator is a cloud-based horizontal offering comprising of platform services and professional services, for service providers. It provides continuous incremental functionality offered as a Service to enable agile creation and deployment of solutions for the Internet of Things.

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