The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has cautioned telecommunications service providers in the country to stop automatic or unwarranted renewal of data packages without the consent of the subscribers or risk N5 million penalty on default.

The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the industry’s regulatory commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, gave the warning at the first episode of NCC Consumer Conversation 2018, held in Karu, Nasarawa State.

He pointed out that the warning became imperative in view of the mounting complaints from the subscribers against telcos for breaching the extant rules.

Danbatta, who was represented at the event by the Commission’s Director, Northern Operations, Mrs. Helen Obi, disclosed that the complaints received by the Commission in recent times had become alarming such that the Commission would no longer be reluctant to sanction any operator engaging in the unlawful act.

The EVC explained that in addition to the N5 million fine for the violation of the law, failure to pay the sanction by any defaulting telco would attract additional penalty of N500, 000 daily.

He clarified: “The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, on the 21 May, 2018 issued a directive to all network providers to desist from carrying out automatic or unwarranted renewal of data packages without their consent. We have also directed that no mobile service providers should impose their services to consumers. ‘It is expected that they should obtain their consent.

“There should be a written text by the network provider to the consumer requesting to know whether the consumer is interested in renewing the package, after that, the network provider must also repeat the process to ensure that the consumer understood the terms and conditions of the service and has given consent before automatic renewal.

“In a situation where the commission receives complaints from the consumer that he or she was short-changed, the Commission will take it up on behalf of the consumer because that will be a violation of directive.

“The penalty for the violation will attract a N5 million for any service provider who defaults. And for everyday that the commission issues the sanction and the fine was not paid by the service provider, it will attract and additional N500, 000’’, Dambatta added.

It would be recalled that the Commission had, on 21 May, 2018 issued a directive to all network providers to desist from imposing any value added tax (VAT) on the subscribers without their express permission.