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Telecommunication firms threaten service withdrawal over USSD debt


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Telecommunication firms in Nigeria have issued fresh threats to withdraw Unstructured Supplementary Service Data service if banks do not pay their N120bn debt owed to them.

The issue, according to the telecommunication firms has lingered for too long and a court resolution might be needed since the banks do not seem to be ready to clear the debt.

Mr Gbenga Adebayo, the Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria, disclosed this over the weekend while speaking to newsmen.

Though, this is coming despite a recent resolution by the telcos and banks to settle the USSD issue that has been lingering for about four years.

He said, “I think is just best to withdraw the services. On this issue of USSD debt, if parties have to go to court to get a final resolution, so be it. This is because every effort that is being made by everyone, where we move one step forward, several steps backward, is not going to work.

“This is a commercial agreement that went south. This agreement has a provision for third-party intervention, whether arbitration or heading for the Court of Law, if it is allowed to take its own life, parties will decide where to go. Instead of going to meetings in Abuja with the minister or the CBN, parties would decide where to go according to the agreement.”

He further noted that the matter is commercial, and it is proper to withdraw the service. He however noted that political interference has ensured that telcos have not been able to enforce the commercial terms.

He stated, “So when you open commercial agreement to political interference, you get into this kind of problem. That is why we say emphatically that some issues, including price review, should be left to market forces, not to be determined by government because it is not sustainable.”

He disclosed that in a recent with the Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr Bosun Tijani, recently, the minister was sympathetic to the plight of the telcos and stressed that if parties behaved as responsibly as they should, the matter wouldn’t have reached this level.


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