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Exposing The Mindless Fraud By Telecommunication Companies In Nigeria And Why NCC Must Act Now, By Elias Ozikpu

March 14, 2022

The violent manner with which telecommunication companies in Nigeria defraud data subscribers is unspeakable and should never be accepted by members of any society!

In Nigeria, conversations around corruption are only invoked with reference to public office holders. This is understandably so considering the ruinous effect that the tiniest dent of corruption amongst political office holders could have on the entire nation and its people.

Corruption, for example, is wholly responsible for the lack of electricity in Nigeria, absence of world-class health facilities, crumbled education system, dilapidated infrastructures and several other inexhaustible defects which should never be seen or heard of in a country that has the potentials to  be ranked amongst the so-called “First World” nations.


But whilst political corruption is admittedly dangerous and has cataclysmic effects on its victims, corruption outside political corridors is not by any means better. It is for this reason that I have decided to address the enormous fraud being carried out by telecommunication companies in Nigeria.

Since the advent of smart phones which now empower users to make either audio or video calls on different platforms online, telecommunication companies soon realised that they could not rely on the sale of recharge cards for traditional phone calls as was the case before now. This technological shift switched the attention of telecommunication companies to data as their main selling point and this marked the beginning of monumental fraud against subscribers who purchase either mobile data or other types of data.

The violent manner with which telecommunication companies in Nigeria defraud data subscribers is unspeakable and should never be accepted by members of any society! Having extensively explored, I can authoritatively assert that all four major telecommunication companies operating in Nigeria are guilty of this massive fraud against the people.

A few years ago, I explained how one of the telecommunication companies, whilst I was offline, sent me a text message notifying me that I had used 75% of my mobile data. Curiously, whilst still offline since the receipt of the first message, another text message came in 28 minutes later informing me that I had used 100% of my data bundle, forcing me to write their headquarters demanding for documentary proof detailing how the exhausted data was used whilst I was offline and my data turned off. Of course, they refused to provide the proof that I had asked for, but decided to make baseless explanations that did not corroborate with my demands.

In January of 2021, I purchased a MiFi device from another Nigerian telecommunication company, had it loaded with 20GB of data and connected it to my laptop. But in less than one hour after powering the MiFi device – a period I spent setting up my password and other information on the company’s own portal/app, 4GB of the 20GB had “vanished.” I reached out to the company’s customer care to protest the the magical depletion of my data, but the agent who attended to me defended the fraud, saying that the depletion was “normal.”

Dissatisfied, I reported the fraud to the Consumer Care section of Nigerian Communications Commission [NCC], who promptly called on the company to address the matter. Although the telecommunication company later contacted me, they spent the entire time defending the fraud.

It is therefore laughable how telecommunication companies in Nigeria defend their fraud by blaming it on auto update applications on mobile phones, video streaming and several others. But over the years, these excuses and similar others have served as nothing but defensive mechanisms behind which these companies hide to effect their fraud. Mobile data in Nigeria disappear even when background applications are firmly restricted and regardless of whether or not the user watches videos online.

A week ago or so, another victim of telecommunication fraud in Nigeria informed this writer that she purchased 5GB of mobile data and used it only on WhatsApp. However, the data got exhausted within two days, during which she only read and replied messages on the messaging platform! I have also explained how mine got exhausted from 75% to 100% whilst I was offline with the data toggle turned off.

Another issue that must be mentioned is how telecommunication companies in Nigeria tacitly coerce subscribers to upgrade their monthly data plans to higher packages, here’s how:

For instance, a monthly subscriber who uses 10GB would soon find out that the same 10GB is no longer enough for an entire month as has been the case, even when the user’s online activities did not increase. When that happens, the service provider expects the subscriber to upgrade to a higher plan, without which you’d be compelled to subscribe twice, thrice or more with your regular 10GB before the month runs out. Assuming, for instance, that the subscriber decides to upgrade in line with the subtle pressure he/she has been subjected to and decides to subscribe to a 20GB plan, the subscriber finds out after the first or possibly second month that even the higher plan is no longer sustainable for a full month! And it goes on like that! It is for this reason that mobile data in Nigeria now sits precariously on the list of major bills that Nigerians grapple with every month. 

The grand fraud that these rogue companies commit against Nigerians is unspeakable and must be permanently rejected! Telecommunication companies are the most fraudulent entities in Nigeria, so much so that their fraud dwarfs that of political criminals when placed on a scale of comparison.

This monumental fraud has been aided by the inability of our people to demand transparency and accountability in order to get value for their money.

It must be said without reservation that no people on earth deserve to be subjected to the insufferable wickedness and extortion that Nigerians are currently going through in the hands of telecommunication companies who execute these heinous crimes under legal cover.

I am not in any way inferring that these companies should not make profit to keep their businesses alive. The point I am making should be quite clear by now, namely that telecommunication companies in Nigeria deliberately manipulate their subscribers’ data in order to ensure frequent subscriptions. In fact, the conduct of a vox populi is perhaps the only way to capture the humongous scale of fraud that Nigerians suffer from these companies operating on their own soil!

It is my contention that Nigerians should never be so violently milked to the extent of being manipulated into spending more than necessary on data every month. It is criminal for these companies to manipulate customers’ data with the aim of compelling them into making multiple purchases every month.

Consequently, Nigerians must be aware that the magical depletion of their data is not normal as it appears to be. It is a fraud on a grand scale and Nigerians must rise against it en masse.

I call on all Nigerians to forthwith turn their full attention to the massive fraud being perpetrated by telecommunication companies and insist on accountability and value for money. They should commence an online protest under the tag: “#StopTelecosFraud.”

This being a reckless violation of consumers’ rights, I also call on Nigerian Communications Commission [NCC] to immediately swing into action and ensure the full protection of our rights against these rogue companies.

But above all, this struggle is the struggle of the Nigerian people who must understand that except they resist this colossal fraud, these thieving companies would be emboldened and the fraud will only escalate. Therefore, I shall be rounding off this treatise with the words of Martin Luther King Jr:

“A man can’t ride your back unless it is bent.”


Elias Ozikpu

Playwright, novelist, essayist, polemicist, human rights activist, permanent enemy of oppressors