Federal government has reportedly threatened to prosecute Alheri Engineering Company Limited, a telecoms business unit of Dangote Group and six other companies for contravention Nigerian communications laws, according to Technology Times.
Alheri is the telecoms business unit of the business group owned by businessman Aliko Dangote which was granted a 3G licence by national telecoms regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Mr Tony Ojobo, director of Public Affairs at NCC was quoted by Technology Times as saying that a 14-day pre-enforcement notice has been issued the seven companies for allegedly operating with expired licences.
NCC said that the alleged default by the affected communications companies contravenes Section 31(1) of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 — the law guiding telecoms operation in the country.
NCC cited the relevant provisions of the Section to read thus: “No person shall operate a communications system of facility nor provide a communications service in Nigeria unless authorized to do so under a communications licence or exempted under regulations made by the Commission under this Act.”
Meanwhile, “Alheri Engineering Company Ltd, a Dangote Group company, was issued a third generation (3G) licence by the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2007, allowing the company to provide carrier and 3G wireless services,” the website of Dangote Group says about its telecoms unit.
According to NCC, the six other affected companies include First Astria Comm. Tech Limited; Elcomserve Nigeria Limited; Egogo Nigeria Limited; EM West Africa Limited; TC Africa Telecoms Networks Ltd and MJ Global Network Services Limited.
Alheri Engineering came into limelight in 2007 when it won a 3G licence for $150 million in a spectrum sale by NCC.
The Dangote company pulled off this feat alongside Celtel Nigeria Ltd. (now Airtel Nigeria); Globacom Ltd and MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd that also won the same licence at $150 million each.
The Alheri 3G licence was later sold by the company to Etisalat Nigeria by the Dangote Group after the former’s telecoms market entry into the country as the fifth GSM Network operator.
Meanwhile, NCC has threatened to prosecute the affected companies for allegedly operating with expired licences.
According to Ojobo, “Pre-enforcement notice is hereby given to the said companies to within 14 days from the date of this publication commence the renewal process of their expired licences. Failing which, the Commission may consider appropriate enforcement action, including, but not limited to reporting your activities to the Nigeria Police for investigation and prosecution.”
According to him, “Members of the public who deal with these companies are hereby advised to insist on sighting a valid licence or evidence of licence renewal process.”