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Campaign Scratch Card: APC Berates NCC Over Threat To Sanction Telecommunications Companies

By Funmilayo Omidiji, Lagos – The opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) has called on Federal Government to desist from “approbating and reprobating” of political telecommunication campaign channels, saying this portrays the National Communication Commission (NCC) as partisan and a biased regulatory agency especially on its recent directives to the telecommunication providers on the GSM political campaign platforms.

buhariIn the light of this, the opposition requested the NCC to immediately withdraw its “ill-advised, ill-timed and ill-intentioned directive” which it accused was solely aimed at preventing it, from legitimately raising funds to finance its campaign, as the party has not breached any known law relating to promotion of its candidate and the party.

APC National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed made the request Wednesday, at a press conference in Lagos.

Alhaji Mohammed informed that the NCC has surprisingly written to all the service providers to stop using their platforms such as SMS, Ringtones and Scratch Cards to raise funds, to ”avoid running political/advertisement promotions that would portray them as being partisan”, as well as threatened to sanction any one of them that flouted the directive.

“By doing so, the same body, a national institution, that is warning service providers against running political/advertisements promotions in order not to be portrayed as partisan has itself become a tool of crass partisanship! What an irony!!

“It is also necessary to note that no regulatory body has barred the use of the traditional platforms of Radio, Television and Print media from running political advertisements and promotions.

“Our party takes a very strong exception to the contents of the letter sent by the NCC to the service providers as well as the timing of such directive. There can’t be a clearer example of abuse of office.

“We are extremely concerned by this brazen act of intimidation and regulatory lawlessness towards legitimate businesses providing perfectly legitimate advertisement services, especially when the advertisers have not breached any law or prevented their subscribers from opting out of such services” the opposition publicist held.

The party noted that it was more appalled that the agency seemed splendidly oblivious of the fact that the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 did not outlaw advertisements, adding that some of the Act’s subsidiary legislation/ guidelines did permit different advertorial media such as mail, licensee’s website, text messages, and electronic mail (where permitted by recipients) among others.

Alhaji Mohammed warned that the telecommunication firms should not be bullied by the NCC into infringing upon the rights of their subscribers in having unfettered access to information and services for which they paid or were paying, stating that the act undermined the country’s democratic rights and freedoms, by following the “Egyptian model of blocking social media platforms or channels”, particularly as the operators were not responsible for the social media contents.

“We are not aware of legislation that prevents any commercial entity from advancing any political aims, or engaging in commercial businesses with political parties, apart from making party political donations – which of course the PDP Federal government so shamelessly breached when it recently collected billions of Naira from many commercial interests.

“The PDP Federal Government has consistently said it is committed to providing jobs for the teeming number of our country’s unemployed, especially the youth. But is it not curious that the same government has now embarked on blocking avenues for jobs to be created? Talk of hypocrisy of the highest order”, APC challenged.

Alhaji Mohammed earlier revealed that the purpose of the press conference was to unveil the five platforms through which interested Nigerians could make monetary contributions to the Buhari-Osinbajo campaign.

The platforms according to him included: Banks; E-Payment; SMS; Ringtones; Scratch Card

He stated apart from the first two platforms, the remaining – SMS, Ringtones and Scratch Card, were totally dependent on the telecommunications service providers, adding that it was is no longer news that individuals and organizations have been using these new platforms to either pass across messages or promote their products, among others, just like they have done through the traditional platforms, including radio, television and the newspapers.


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