About 24 hours to its implementation, the Nigerian government on Sunday asked MTN Nigeria and other mobile operators to halt charging customer the four naira (N4:00) charge per 20 seconds on USSD access to banking services.
The Minister of Communications, Dr. Isa Pantami, issued the directive on after a twitter user, Mustapha Hadi, tweeted at Pantami, requesting he acts on the claim.
MTN had sent a message to its mobile customers that with effect from October 21, 2019, N4 will be charged on every 20 seconds spent while using USSD access to banking services.
The message from MTN read: “Yello, Please note that from Oct 21, we will charge N4 per 20 seconds for USSD access to banking services. Thank you.”
However, Dr. Pantami, in a statement signed by his spokesperson, Mrs. Uwa Suleiman, asked the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to ensure that the operator suspends such plans until he is fully briefed.
“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) ensures the operator suspends such plans until the Honourable Minister is fully and properly briefed.”
Dear @DrIsaPantami, today MTN sent me a message that they will start deducting charges for mobile top-up as directed by my bank. I think this is a bit too harsh considering the many charges they are already deducting daily. Pls consider the common man and do something. Thank you
— Mustapha Hadi, GMCPN (@musteehadee) October 20, 2019
Many thanks for drawing my attention to it. We have directed NCC to ask MTN to suspend the plan. We are not aware of it officially. We will investigate and make sure right thing is done. Best wishes! https://t.co/S21upgbzE1
— Isa Ali Pantami, PhD (@DrIsaPantami) October 20, 2019.
There has been resentment by Nigerians since the message from MTN appeared on Sunday.