11 March 2016

Nigeria: Bill to Reduce Unsolicited Texts, Calls, Passes Second Reading

Abuja — A bill seeking to reduce unsolicited telephone calls and text messages received by telecommunications subscribers on Thursday passed through second reading in the House of Representatives.

Sponsored by Hon. Aliyu Sani Madaki (Kano APC), the bill wants subscribers to be given the option of not receiving the unsolicited communication, many of which are automated by the service providers.

The bill empowers aggrieved subscribers to file civil suits against service providers before a High Court, and receive compensation.

Madaki clarified that the bill is intended to strengthen the operational base of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

"No legislation currently exists to address the prevalence and incidences of these unsolicited messages, thereby leaving the consumers at the mercy of service providers. This is exploitative and not in tune with the services rendered by service providers globally," he said.

Some lawmakers including Hon. Orkev Jev (Benue APC) and Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas (Adamawa APC) argued that the issue was not alone to warrant becoming a law by itself, but should be an amendment to the NCC Act.

Hon. Chukwuemeka Ujam (Enugu PDP) argued that telemarketing is a global pactice.

Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila however said the extent at which the practice is done by service providers amounts to harassment and negates the right to privacy of the subscriber.

"Yes, tele marketing is a global practice, but marketing is a profession itself," he said and marketers do not have the right to harass potential clients.

The Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, agreed that the matter can become legislation by itself.

"If I don't want any advertisement on my phone, no subscriber or provider is allowed to give my number to a third party," he said.

He referred the bill to the committee on telecommunications, after putting it to vote.

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