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FG Orders MTN to Suspend Planned Charges on Codes to Access Banks

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The Minister of Communications, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami has directed the nation’s telecom sector regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to suspend forth any USSA charges plans by service providers in the country until he is fully and properly briefed.

In a statement on Sunday signed by his Spokesperson, Mrs. Uwa Suleiman, the Minister expressed worry that such unknown charges could be announced without his knowledge and ordered the industry regulator to put such charges on hold pending when he is convinced about circumstances surrounding the strange charges.

The statement reads in part: “The attention of the Federal Ministry of Communications has been drawn to the viral text message allegedly sent by the Mobile Network Operator, MTN Nigeria and other Mobile Operators notifying subscribers of a four naira (N4:00) charge per 20 seconds on USSD access to banking services from the 21st of October 2019.

“The office of the Honourable Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami FNCS, FBCS, FIIM is unaware of this development and has hereby directed the sector regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) ensure the operators suspend such plans until the Honourable Minister is fully and properly briefed.”

MTN Nigeria had said it had plans to impose a new charge on customers who use its short codes to access banking services.

In an SMS message to its subscribers on Sunday it said the decision was at the request of the banks and would take effect from Oct. 21.

“Yello, as requested by your bank, from Oct. 21, we will start charging you directly for USSD access to banking services. Please contact your bank for more information,” the message said.

Many Nigerians have expressed outrage on social media over the plan, which is coming amid a raft of new charges the Federal Government has caused citizens to pay.

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