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Nigerian Regulator Cannot Distribute Fines to Affected Customers

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Nigeria's telecoms regulator has responded to complaints that fines imposed on mobile networks should be handed to customers, not the government.

ast month, the NCC imposed fines of N647.5 million (USD3.88 million) on three of the country's mobile networks. They were also banned from signing up any new customers during the month of March.

The NCC issued fines on the mobile networks for missing quality of service standards, but there is growing calls for the customers to be the beneficiaries of the fines.

However, the NCC's Executive Vice-Chairman, Mr. Eugene Juwah said at a press event that the law does not currently permit it to impose a fine, and require that money to be distributed to the affected customers.

He said: "There is nothing in our law that has empowers NCC to share money, which is paid as penalty. It is just like someone who is fined by a court of law. They don't give the money to the plaintiff, the money is paid into government coffers."

He did note that they can compel the mobile networks to offer compensation in the form of free airtime, but not cash.

However, he added that this seemed to be less of a sanction for the mobile networks, who would find it less of a burden to offer free airtime, than pay cash to the government.

"They can give airtime as compensation and still be providing poor quality of service, but if they feel pained to cough out N270 million, they should be obliged to improve on their service." he said.

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