The Nigerian Communications Commission, in line with section 53 (1) of the Nigerian Communications Act, has on April 7, 2004 issued a Direction to Globacom Limited demanding the payment of a penalty of N34 million to the Commission for flagrantly refusing to reconnect certain private telecom operators 24 days after the expiration of the seven-day period within which to comply.Of the amount, N10 million is the lump sum payment for non-compliance with the preceding Direction of the Commission and N24 million is the aggregate of the sum of N1 million per day for each day of non-compliance.
As a result of complaints received from some operators that they had been disconnected from Globacom’s network, the Commission held a meeting with Globacom on December 13, 2004. Arising from that meeting, the Commission forwarded to Globacom a Notice of Intention to issue a Direction dated January 19, 2005.
Following the failure of Globacom to respond to the Notice of Intention to issue a Direction, the Commission on March 7, 2005 issued a Direction in the following terms:
That Globacom Limited should ensure interconnection of its network with all the affected operators including but not limited to Cell Communications Limited (CELLCOM), Disc Communications Limited (DISCOM), Independent Telephone Networks Limited (ITN), Reliance Telecommunications Limited (RELTEL), XPT Links Limited (XTP), and other PTO’s affected by the disconnection within seven days thereof.
Upon failure to reconnect any of the said operators within seven days, Globacom Limited shall pay to the Commission a penalty in the sum of ^10 million and thereafter the sum N1 million per day as long as the contravention persists.
The seven-day period within which compliance was required by the Commission expired on March 14, 2005. Up till April 7, 2005 Globacom had not migrated any of the affected operators to another switch as it undertook to do at the meeting held on December 13, 2004 or as required by the Commission in its Direction issued on March 7, 2005. The Commission is of the considered opinion that ample opportunity has been given to Globacom to comply with its lawful Direction.
At the expense of repetition, the Commission wishes to stress that the issue of unilateral disconnection of operators without its approval is expressly prohibited by law. A situation where an operator does not only unilaterally disconnect other operators but also refuses to heed a Direction from the Regulator to reconnect them is inimical to the growth of the industry and must be discouraged.
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