LEGAL PROTECTION OF CONSUMERS OF TELECOMMUNICATION SERVICES IN NIGERIA

ABSTRACT
This work focuses on the legal protection of consumers of telecommunications (telecoms) services in Nigeria. The justification for it lies in the need for consumers to be adequately protected against the service providers. Going by the individualism ideology (caveat emptor) a consumer is his best protector representing the age old imbalance of powers between the service providers and consumers of telecom services, thereby making consumers perpetually complain and express one form of discontent or the other against the activities of the service providers. In addition to discussing the concepts of consumer of telecoms services and consumer protection, the study aims at examining the legal and institutional framework for protection of such consumers. The methodology employed in the study is doctrinal through the perusal of the relevant and available texts and literature of law. Relevant cases as well as statutes are collated, perused and critically analysed. Chapter one is the general introduction of the work while chapter two defines the relevant concepts. Historical and philosophical bases of consumer protection of telecoms services are the subject of chapter three and set the pace for appraising the legal and institutional framework. The analysis in chapters four and five encapsulate the extent to which the legal and institutional frameworks help to create the rights and allow expression of complaints and give redress to aggrieved customers as discussed in chapter six. Chapter seven is the legal protection of telecoms consumers in some foreign jurisdictions. By the legal model of selected forms of jurisdictions, suggestions for improved system of protection are advocated. The findings of the research show that the extant telecommunication and anti-competition laws as well as other laws on consumer protection are far from adequately protecting the consumers of telecoms services. Call billing for dialed not heard, chargeable unsolicited text messages, high tariff rates, slamming and cramming are antithetical to the interest of the consumers. It is recommended that the Nigerian Communications Act should be amended to provide for specialised telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal to adjudicate any dispute between a service provider and a group of consumers. The work contributes to the rules for legal, policy and institutional reforms for better protection of consumer of telecom services.
CHAPTER ONE
                                                         INTRODUCTION
1.1              BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Telecommunication is a vital engine for development of any economy. It is an essential infrastructural component that promotes the development of other sectors including agriculture, education, industry, health, banking, defence, transportation and tourism. It is indispensable in times of national emergency or natural disaster. It also reduces the risks and rigors of travel. To this end, the availability of a functional and efficient telecommunications infrastructure is a sine qua non for any country that wants to compete in today’s global economy.
Since the inception of telecommunications development in Nigeria, the system has progressed through various stages of development from the primitive communications equipment in its colonial days to the enormous variety of technologies available today. The development of telecommunications in Nigeria began in 1886, when a cable connection was established between Lagos and the colonial office in London. By 1893, government offices in Lagos were provided with telephone service which was later extended to Ilorin and Jebba in the hinterland. In 1923, the first commercial trunk telephone services between Itu and Calabar was established. Between 1946 and 1952 a three channel line carrier system was commissioned between Lagos and Ibadan and was later extended to Oshogbo, Kaduna, Kano, Benin and Enugu, thus connecting the colonial office in London with Lagos and the commercial centres in the country with local authority offices. No doubt problems were faced by consumers in terms of delivery of telecommunication services in Nigeria as many towns never had commercial trunk telephone services let alone rural areas. There was the problem of not making timely investment for network expansion.
In 1955, small-to-medium capacity systems employing Very High Frequency (VHF) and Ultra High Frequency (UHF) radio were introduced[1]. The telecom sector, as vital as it is to human development and advancement was not given the necessary priority attention it deserved by successive governments since independence. At independence in 1960, the colonial government bequeathed about 18,724 telephone lines. The population then was put at 42.7 million translating into a teledensity of 0.044%[2].
            The focus of attention in this period was the expansion of the network to meet the needs of fledging commercial and industrial, and the establishment of the Nigerian External Telecommunications (NET) Limited. Unfortunately these objectives could not be completely realised at the end of the decade, partly because of underfunding and partly because of the disruption caused to the economy by the Nigerian Civil War (1967–1970). Nevertheless, preparatory work towards the establishment of NET as a limited company started during this period as well.
            During the second decade, after independence, that is 1970–1980, efforts were concentrated on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the telephone equipment and other infrastructure damaged during the civil war. During this period, the telecommunications arm of the Department of Posts and Telecommunication was merged with the Nigerian External Telecommunications (NET) to form in 1985 the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), a limited liability company that administered both internal and external telecommunications services in Nigeria[3].
            The ground work and effort to deregulate and liberalise the sector commenced with the promulgation of the first Nigerian Communications   Act[4] in November 1992 and the subsequent inauguration of the first board of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in 1993. The effort did not bear much fruit as the law had a limiting effect on the liberalisation of the sector. The Act still allowed NITEL to retain its monopoly over the wire line systems, long distance transmission services and international gateway services, thereby retaining its sole national carrier status. Furthermore, due to the fact that the nation was under a military government the first seven years of its life, the commission did not have the necessary freedom and powers to carry out its functions. The rules of the game were not clear and the regulatory body that was to act as referee neither had the autonomy nor resources to guarantee a predictable market place for potential investors.
  Problems were faced by the consumers in terms of protection in delivery of telecommunication services.  NITEL, the government – owned operator at the time was either unwilling or unable to handle the volume of demand for telecommunication services by the increasing Nigerian population. Its services when available were mostly characterised by low call completion rates, congestion of trunk lines and exchanges and call billing errors. NITEL also had the problems of poor system maintenance and not making timely investment for network expansion to meet the demand for telecom services. There were incidences of contested bills which subscribers argued they never incurred – some complained of receiving outrageous and unbelievable bills even while their phones were disconnected and not in use and usually high subscription fee for obtaining phone lines. The waiting time for connection to a NITEL line was as long as two years. In 1999, it was estimated that there were over 10 million people on the waiting list of NITEL who had applied for telephone lines.[5]
            But how far can it be said that the Nigerian Communications Act has achieved its objectives and addressed the challenges faced by the consumers prior to its promulgation? If it has not, what factor accounts for its failure? And in what ways could the Act be amended and or reformed to be able to address the challenges facing protection of consumers of telecommunication services in Nigeria of the 21st century. The main complaints relating to telecommunication services tend to be as follows: the price of services (particularly the high cost of local calls on fixed lines); network congestion; poor network coverage; failed calls (both not completed and cut-off); phone and handset-related; loss of pre-paid credit after loading; charges for Short Message Services (SMS) not delivered to voice-mail when the network is congested; wrong billing (particularly with illegal use of lines); and the quality of fixed lines; slow responses to complaints; the frequency of “down-time”; and the slow response to repair and maintenance problems.
 According to the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the most common consumer complaints about local phone service in the US are related to billing errors and questionable fees. Consumers file complaints with the FCC about credits, refunds, or adjustments allegedly owed to the subscriber and about specific line item charges. Two types of these complaints to the FCC are “slamming” and “cramming”. Slamming is when a consumer’s service provider is changed or switched to another company without the consumer’s permission. Cramming on the other hand is when the consumer’s bill has unauthorised, misleading, or deceptive charges[6]. This includes the practice of billing a consumer for services the consumer never bargained for. These problems are as real in Nigeria as in the United States, and the consumer is the victim of these problems. It is therefore apposite to research into the extent the consumers of telecom services are protected in the country.
1.2   STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
That there is a high incidence of substandard products and supply of services in Nigeria is an uncontroversial truism. More often than not, consumers of telecommunication services in Nigeria find themselves saddled with poor network coverage, billing for dialled but not heard calls, provided the send key had been pressed and unsolicited text messages and calls. The supply of shoddy products and services constitutes a big problem to the consumers. The consumer is denied proper worth for the money spent.
In the light of the above, the Government feels concerned about this problem. This concern is aptly demonstrated by the various measures being taken to ensuring that the service providers pay for offences committed by them by enacting statutes which impose penalties for consumer-related offences. By the various statutes enacted by the government, the law makes fair provisions for the protection of consumers of telecommunication services in Nigeria, at least on paper. The industry is however, not without its challenges. There are some areas where protection is inadequate or non- existent. The disadvantaged position of consumers in their dealing with service providers on ground of inequality of bargaining power accentuated by the flow of information, resources and technical know-how controlled by the service providers cannot be over- emphasised. The Nigerian Communications Act has not satisfactorily cured these mischief in that unsolicited call and text messages, cloning and cramming still remain the order of the day.  
1.3   LITERATURE REVIEW
            A review of relevant literature reveals scholarly and legal problems inherent in legal protection of consumers of telecommunication services in Nigeria. A lot is definitely wrong with the present regime of legal protection of consumers of telecommunication services in Nigeria, against the backdrop of information technology advancement and superhighway of the present age.  
In 1984, in the post–war period, the United Nations sought through its Universal Declaration of Human Rights to identify a number of basic rights that should be common to all. Not surprisingly, given the humanitarian, social and economic circumstances, almost all of these rights relate to the behaviour of government to its citizens. Only one clause–stating that everyone has the right of equal access to public services–seems to have any direct bearing on the topic being addressed. It was not until 1985 that the UN adopted Guidelines for Consumer Protection that was later expanded in 1999[7].
            Taken in broad spectrum, Nigerian jurisprudence on the subject of legal protection of consumers of telecommunication services is relatively sparse. While academic exposition by way of books and journal articles particularly those on consumer rights law are rather scanty, case reviews on competition law, telecoms and internet law as well as self-regulatory frameworks are less than satisfactory.
            Most of the cases on the subject reflect the traditional application of defective product law where proof of negligence is a must in Nigeria. The gap signposts the need for legal development to match technological advancement in areas of telecommunications and other areas that use telecommunications based tools such as internet, electronic money transfer, e-commerce and Automated Teller Machine (ATM).
            A lot of the literature in this subject, are those in general consumer protection law. Among other relevant books which treated the subject of Consumer Protection Law include Consumer Protection, freedom of contract and the law[8] , Consumer Protection and Standard Form Contracts in Nigeria[9], the Law of Consumer Protection and Fair Trading[10], Historical Analysis of Consumer Protection Law in Nigeria[11], Consumers, Producer Hegemony and the Nigerian Economy[12] and Consumer Protection Law, Text, Cases and Material[13], Law of Consumer Protection [14], Consumer Protection in Nigeria Law, Theory and Policy[15], and Law and Principles of Consumer Protection[16]. Some other learned writings and articles in Nigeria which treated the subject of Consumer Protection Law include “Deceptive and unfair trade”[17], “Towards an International Legal Regime of consumer Protection for developing countries; Nigeria as a case study”[18], Telephone and the Consumer[19].
A number of papers and addresses have been delivered on Consumer Protection Law in relation to telecommunication and electronic money transfer, e-commerce and Automated Teller Machine (ATM) which cannot be possible without the assistance of telecommunications or telecommunications based-tools, which could be telephonic, telegraphic, wireless radio messaging or satellite telephony are, current trends and future development in Telecommunications in Nigeria[20], address by the Minister of Communications on the occasion of the 18th World Telecommunication Day[21], Contemporary Legal Issues in Electronic Commerce in Nigeria[22]. Other writings which treated Consumer Protection Law in relation to telecommunication and electronic money transfer, e-commerce, and automated teller machine are Enhancing Electronic Payments[23], Analysis of the Negative Effects of the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) as a channel for Delivering Banking Services in Nigeria[24], Electronic Commerce Definitions[25], Modes of Deregulation and liberalisation of Telecommunications for Africa and Middle East[26], Address by the Minister of Communications on occasion of the 22nd World Telecommunication Day[27], An empirical study of Automated Teller Machine Service and customer satisfaction in Pakistani banks[28], The telecommunication Revolution in Nigeria being the text of the convocation lecture delivered at the Igbinedion University, Okada[29], Banking services: The Emergence and Impact of Electronic banking[30], Telecommunications in focus, 10th Anniversary Lecture for 2 way Communications[31], The adoption of Automated Teller Machines in an application of the theory of diffusion of innovation[32], Electronic Commerce: Structures and Issues[33], Exit, Voice and Indifference: case study of consumers in the Nigerian Global Systems for Mobile (GSM) service market[34], Consumer Protection and Telecommunications Services in Nigeria: Regulatory and Policy Issues[35].
In his book, Badaiki traced the genesis of consumer protection to the Biblical Old Testament injunction[36] where God enjoined Babylon and Israel to take care of their design and construction of their houses lest any man falls from their houses and bring blood upon their houses[37].
            According to him, “it is doubtful whether the customary law evolved any position on consumer protection law strictum sensu”[38]. This contrasts with the rules that developed during the industrial age.  
                   Indeed in Nigeria, the first call for a deliberate push towards consumer protection and consumerism can be found in the case of Nigeria Bottling Co. Ltd v. Ngonadi[39], wherein Aniagolu JSC, stated:
But nothing appears to be elementary in this country where it is often the unhappy lot of consumers to be inflicted with shoddy and un-merchantable goods by pretentious manufacturers, entrepreneurs, shoddy middlemen and unprincipled retailers whose avowed interest seem only, and always, to maximise their profits leaving honesty a discounted and shattered commodity.

That case marked the clarion call for a radical approach to consumer protection issues. It must be noted from the outset that the pursuit of civil claims in civil law courts on issues bordering on liability is tedious[40] and sometime remedies may be quite inadequate[41]. There is the problem of burden of proof[42] and the constant assertion by manufacturers that they use facilities and equipment which run on fool proof mechanisms, thereby not allowing for any kind of defect in their product[43]. There is the problem of delays in civil proceedings[44] and the reluctance of the courts to allow claimants to rely on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur in product liability cases[45] and the problem of the quantum of damages[46] and the cost involved in pursuing litigation.
     Murphy noted:
In consumer transactions, unfair practices are widespread: The existing law is still founded on the principles known as caveat emptor meaning let the buyer beware; that principle may have been appropriate for transactions conducted in village markets. It has ceased to be appropriate as a general rule. Now the marketing of goods and services is conducted on an organised basis and by trained business executives. The untrained consumer is no match for the business man who attempts to persuade consumer to buy goods or services on terms and conditions suitable to render. The consumer need protection by the law and this bill provide such protection[47].

Kanyip[48] however noted:
The existing normative and regulatory provisions in Nigeria are of very limited impact in terms of protecting consumers. Not only is their application in practice difficult but sometimes impossible, they are often even theoretically indefensible. Consumers generally, lack the resources to monitor the enforcement process that give meaning to their protection and the law is fraught with so many short comings that often consumers lack the motivation and courage to go through it. Adjudication is almost a gamble since a consumer can never be certain that the verdict will be in his favour no matter how meritorious his claims may be.   


To Adam Smith[49];
Consumer is the sole end and purpose of production and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of consumer. The maxim is so perfectly self-absurd to attempt to prove it. But in the mercantile system, the interest of the consumer is almost constantly sacrificed to that of the producer and it seems to consider production and not commerce.

The case of Kano State v. Pfizer Inc.,[50] demonstrates the general limitations of product liability law in achieving its compensation goal. In this case, Pfizer, an American Pharmaceutical Company, conducted a drug test on two hundred children in Kano State. As a result of the test, eleven children died while one hundred and eighty children were left with different deformities. The case that was first instituted in the Connecticut State in the United State was dismissed on the ground that the forum was not convenient. The case lasted for fifteen years but finally, it was settled out of court. The company agreed to pay thirty five million dollars ($35, 000, 000) as compensation to the two hundred victims affected by the drug test. The sum of ten million dollars ($10, 000, 000) had already been paid to the legal team that represented the Plaintiff in court and in negotiating with the company. To each of the seven members of the disbursement committee for every sitting, one million naira was also being paid as sitting allowances. A medical committee was set up to conduct a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) test on the Claimants and only eight out of the two hundred participants passed the DNA test. This is a clear demonstration of the general limitations of product liability law in achieving its compensation goal.
It should be pointed out here that the concept of Consumer protection in Nigeria is actively a recent phenomenon. In fact, it is a twentieth century development. Although this is also true of other jurisdictions[51]. This does not, however, deny the validity of Badaiki’s[52] view that the genesis of attempting to protect the consumer is as old as human creation.  If it is agreed that the genesis of attempting to protect the consumer is as old as human creation, emphasis was not placed on the need to protect consumers as enjoined by God until recently. In an attempt to protect the interest of the consumer government has enacted statutes in regulating product manufacturing and rendering of services to meet acceptable standards. Thus, the desire to produce or supply goods and services depends on the maintenance of minimum standards considered to be necessary for the protection of users of the product or services. Some of these statutes are: The Counterfeit and Fake Drugs and Unwholesome Processed Food (Miscellaneous Provision) Act[53]; Trade Malpractices (Miscellaneous Offences) Act[54]; Weight and Measures Act[55]; Standard Organisation of Nigeria Act[56]; Food and Drugs Act[57]; Hire Purchase Act[58]; National Agency for Food and Drugs, Administration and Control (NAFDAC) Act[59]; Advertising Practitioners (Registration etc) (APR) Act[60] and the Consumer Protection Council Act (CPC Act).[61]   
              The most potent of all these laws is the Consumer Protection Council Act[62] which provides inter alia for Consumer Protection Council:
To seek ways and means of removing or eliminating from the market, hazardous products and causing offenders to replace such product with safer and more appropriate alternatives; publish from time to time, a list of products whose consumption and sale have been restricted or not approved by the Federal Government or Foreign Government; cause an offending company, firm, trade association or individual to protect, compensate, provide relief and safeguard to injured consumers or communities from adverse effect of technologies that are inherently harmful, injurious, violent or highly hazardous; encourage the adoption of appropriate measures to ensure that products are safe for use.

Efforts to protect the interest of the consumer appears to have been advanced with the coming of the CPC Act. The only statute that appears to address the issue of legal protection of consumers of telecommunication services in Nigeria is the Nigerian Communications Act[63], but the statute still leaves much to be desired in that the Act did not capture unsolicited text messages and calls and consumers are made to pay for them most especially when deactivating from the unsolicited short message service (SMS) with the number recommended by the sender.  There is also the problem of Nigeria Communications Commission making the service providers to pay penalties for low quality of service without the consumers who actually suffered benefiting from the money.  No doubt, these statutory enactments are laudable, but their implementation leaves much to be desired. This is also true of judicial approach in protecting the consumer where the theory for the recovery by the consumer for product reliability requires proving negligence and due care.
            Another notable issue according to Kanyip[64], is that there are advantages and disadvantages of promotion of products and services from both the perspectives of the producer and the consumer. From the point of view of the producer, advertisement is useful in sales promotion in that it boosts sales especially if it has the effect of creating brand loyalty amongst customers and thereby causing privatised and commercialised enterprises to record profitability. In the long run, there is its negative effect on the consumer because it entrenches producer hegemony over the market and thus undermines consumer sovereignty, somewhat perpetuating monopoly power. To Giwa[65], equally devastating to the consumer are the various marketing ploys especially sales promotions by privatised and commercialised enterprises, who in the drive to make profit, for examples, enjoins consumers to buy a particular product and by means of a coupon win an item more expensive than the product. Items to be won by the consumers include television, refrigerator, cars and in extreme cases an helicopter. Many unsuspecting consumers enter into such transactions not knowing that most of such sales promotions amount to wager, that is, that act of staking money or money’s worth to await the determination of an uncertain event.  A contract of gaming and wagering is null and void.    
            Though the Consumer Protection Council Act[66] offers protection to the consumers who may have suffered loss from the use of a product, a comparison of the Act with international best practice, reveals that a lot has to be done to modify the Act to meet up with international standards. In the U.K. for example, product liability directive has been transposed into law. The legislation imposes strict liability on producers/suppliers for harm caused by defective product. The 1999 directive was transposed in England and Wales by the Consumer Production Council Act, 1987 (product liability) (modification order) 2000. This means that people who have suffered loss by defective products can sue for compensation without having to prove the producer negligence provided that they can prove that the product was defective. The locus classicus of this principle is the English case of Rylands v. Fletcher[67] wherein it was stated that anyone who brings, collects and keeps on his property anything likely to do damage, if it escape is liable for the consequences of its escape. The English Court of Appeal ruled for the first time on the terms of the Consumer Protection Act going against the trend of judgements in lower courts that the product supplier though not negligent, the claimant was entitled to damages under the Act[68].
The facts of the case are that the claimant’s mother purchased in 1990 a cosy toes sleeping bag, designed to be attached to a child’s push chair with elastic straps. Shortly after the purchase, the claimant who was aged 12 at that time helped his mother attached the product to his younger brother’s push chair. One of the elastic straps slipped and lashed back. The buckle attached to the elastic strap hit him in the eye causing serious permanent damage. The claimant sued Mother Care, the supplier of the product, claiming damages in negligence and also under the Consumer Protection Act. Mother Care conceded that it was the producer of the product within the meaning of part 1 of the Act. As part of its defence, Mother Care argued that: the product was supplied because there have been no previous instances of this type of injury and in 1990, consumers could not reasonably have expected the product to be designed differently so as to avoid the risk of the type of injury; even if the products were defective, the respondent was entitled to use the development risk defence in a product if the state of scientific and technical knowledge at the relevant time was not such that a producer might be expected to have discovered the defect; for the same reason, it did not act negligently in 1990 by supplying the product in that form and the claimant acted carelessly in trying to attach the product and was therefore partly responsible for his own injury.
A consulting engineer retained as an expert witness by the parties concluded that in 1990, no manufacturer of child care products could reasonably have recognised the potential risk of this type of accident because at that time, even experts in the safety of child care products had not recognised the problem. The trial judge found that Mother Care was liable for the claimant’s injuries and rejected the claim of contributory negligence on the part of the claimant though the trial judge did not make clear whether his ruling was based on common law negligence or strict liability under the Consumers Protection Act or both. Mother Care appealed. The Court of Appeal rejected Mother Care’s appeal finding that whilst Mother Care had not been negligent, the product was defective for the purposes of part 1 of the Consumer Protection Act. The Court of Appeal also ruled that the respondent was not entitled to the benefit of development risks defence. The Court of Appeal accepted the expert’s evidence that no prudent manufacturer would have anticipated the risk at that time. Therefore, there had been no breach by Mother Care of any common law duty of care. The Court of Appeal further held inter alia that the producer was found liable under the consumer protection Act strict liability provisions even though it was not negligent. The exercise of all proper care will not necessarily protect the producer from strict liability if a consumer is injured by a defect in the product; a manufacturer or supplier may be liable under strict liability even if the risk could not have been recognised at the time of supply; the development risks defence will be available only where there has been some scientific or technical advance since the time of supply which enables the defect to be identified.
Although the strict liability provisions have not been encapsulated in Nigeria’s law, a customer who institutes an action under the Consumer Protection Council Act can rely on this case in the apparent absence of decisions on product liability in Nigeria.  Reliance, however, can only be persuasive as the judges are not bound to follow such decisions.  
1.4       OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The overall aim of the study is to examine the nature and extent of protection given by the law to the consumers of telecommunication services in Nigeria. 
The specific objectives of the study are as follows:
a.              To discuss the concepts of consumer and consumer protection.
b.             To highlight the problems encountered by consumers of telecommunication services.
c.              To discuss the current legal and institutional regime for protection of consumers of telecommunication services in Nigeria.
d.             To identify and discuss the provisions of the Nigerian Communications Act, other relevant statutes and telecommunication policies in the country and their effect on consumer protection.
e.              To examine the telecommunication laws of some foreign jurisdictions with a view to borrowing, if necessary, a leaf from their experiences.
1.5       RESEARCH METHOD
The research approach is doctrinal[69]. The research methodology is analytical and historical. An indepth evaluation of the problems of the Act is undertaken in order to achieve the objectives of this study. The information relied on in the work is derived from primary[70] and secondary[71] sources. The primary sources include Nigerian statutes particularly the Nigerian Communications Act, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, (as amended) as well as foreign statutes. Judicial authorities, both Nigerian and foreign also constitute a main primary source of information. The secondary sources include materials on the internet, text books, essays, newspapers and magazines, articles in journals and conference proceedings (published and unpublished).
1.6       SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to what obtains in telecommunications industry. Occasionally, references will be made to what obtains in other organisations. The study is limited to the legal perspective while appreciating the social, political, economic and commercial points of view. Some factors which are beyond the control of the researcher have introduced some limitations to the scope of the study.  Efforts are, however made to minimise the effects of these factors. The major limitation was that the study was largely self-sponsored and therefore financially constrained to expand the scope of the research topic, and undertake extensive travel for elaborate field work to administer questionnaires.          
1.7       SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
     The Significance of the study is born out of the strategic but vulnerable position of the consumers in dealing with the service providers. Even after sector reforms and government–sponsored programs have been implemented, telecommunication complaints are generally at the top of the overall consumer complaints. There are inadequacies in the legal rules, not mindful of the interventionist role of the government and its agencies. To this end, the work is about the adjustment of power relations between the consumers and the service providers so as to bring to the fore the need to have a legal development to match technological advancement in areas of telecommunications; and also to regulate and provide uniform and effective guiding principles that would minimise customers grievances and ensure satisfactory position of telecom services by the service providers as well as ensuring that there is a consumer-oriented law which will encourage a non-called-billing for dialled not heard and discourage the service providers from placing restrictions or time limitation on validity of airtime on bonus received whenever they are doing sales promotion so that subscribers are not compelled to utilise their call minutes.
     Furthermore, the work will also bring to light the need to amend the Nigerian Communications Act in order to capture unsolicited text messages and calls, as well as reflect some aspects of the laws and best practices in some foreign jurisdictions. Such should include criminalisation of excessive charging of tariff rates by telecom service providers and outright prohibition of unsolicited telecommunication messages; provision of 50% discount to all calls and other telecom uses for public schools and training institutions as well as compulsory provision of national emergency public numbers by telecom service providers.


1.8       ORGANISATION OF THE WORK
The research work is divided into eight chapters, each treating various aspects of the legal protection of consumers of telecommunication services in Nigeria. From the introduction in chapter one to chapter eight, the research work extensively discusses the background to the study, concept of consumer, history and bases of consumer protection in telecommunication services, legal frame work for the consumers of telecoms services, regulatory frame work for the consumer of telecoms services, rights, complaints and remedies in telecommunication services and lessons from other jurisdictions. All the above discussed related areas culminated in the findings, conclusions and recommendations.
Chapter one examines the background to the study, statement of the problem, literature review, research method, scope and limitations of the study, significance of the study, and organisation of the work. In chapter two the concepts of consumer, consumer protection, telecommunication, telecommunication services and service providers will be extensively discussed. Given that these concepts are central to the study, it is necessary to understand who is to be protected, what that protection should be, against whom the protection is made and the quality of services to be rendered.
            Chapter three examines legal history of consumer in telecommunication services and bases of consumer protection in telecommunication services. The chapter intends to find out the philosophical bases of consumer protection, need for consumer protection, United Nation Guidelines for consumer protection and policy issues in Nigeria. It will examine the extent to which the National Telecommunications Policy provides appropriate sanctions for anti-competitive practices by business organisation in order to ensure a level playing ground.   
Chapter four is on the legal framework for the consumer of telecoms services. It highlights the role of civil and criminal law in protecting the consumers whose rights are breached by service providers. The aim is to determine whether given the activities of the legal framework, there is virtue in regulation as a pattern for consumer protection. Chapter five discusses the concept of regulatory framework for the consumer of telecoms services. To achieve this, it examines self-regulatory framework; regulatory issues; regulatory institutions such as Nigerian Communications Commission, Consumer Protection Council and National Regulatory Agency; telecoms consumer interest groups and Consumer Affairs Bureau. All efforts were geared towards the assessment of an effective consumer protection regime in the industry. Chapter six discusses consumer complaints, rights and remedies (regulatory and administration). It also examines the redress available to the consumers of telecommunication services in Nigeria.           
            Chapter seven examines lessons from other jurisdictions on legal protection of telecom consumers. To this end, lessons from developed and developing jurisdictions were examined. The chapter argued for law reform and amendment of the Nigeria Communication Act so that Nigerian Communications Commission will have power of a superior court with respect to attendance of witnesses and enforcement of decision and also to establish Specialised Telecom Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal to adjudicate any dispute between a service providers and a group of consumers.
             Chapter eight comprises summary, conclusion, recommendations and contributions to knowledge. It points out the importance of protecting telecoms consumers in Nigeria, like all other third world countries that desire to close the gap between them and the advanced countries of the world. It further highlights that protecting telecom consumers is imperative if the consumer is to be taken as the king. The study establishes a great deal of merit for telecom rights. It also makes a case for the reform and enlargement of the powers of the Nigerian Communications Commission.




[1]               Attah, M. E., “Current trends and future development in Telecommunications in Nigeria” being a
paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Nigerian Association of Radio Science, Lagos
1988.  Ayuba, A. T., “Address by the Minister of Communications on the occasion” of the 18th World          Telecommunication Day, Lagos, 1986.Iromantu, O. C., “Modes of Deregulation and liberalisation of
Telecommunications for Africa and Middle East”, paper presented at Africa Telecom Cairo Egypt
April 1994. Mark, D. A. B., “Address by the Minister of Communications" on the occasion of the 22nd
World Telecommunication Day Lagos, May 1990. Salawu, R. I., “Telecommunications in focus”, 10th
Anniversary Lecture for 2 way Communications Ltd., Lagos, November 1991.
[2]               Ndukwe E., “The telecommunication Revolution in Nigeria” being a paper presented at the Annual               convocation ceremony of Igbinedion University, Okada on 22nd December 2011.
[3]               Attah, M. E., op.cit.
[4]               Cap. N 97 LFN 2010.
[5]               Ndukwe, E., op. cit.
[6]               Russell, S., “Consumer Protection in the Digital Age: Accessing Current and Future Activities”,
being a paper presented at the Global Seminar on Quality of Service and Consumer Protection
at Geneva, Switzerland, 31st August-1st September 2006.
[7]               United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection available at
[8]               Aronstam, P.,Consumer protection, freedom of contract and the Law,  Juta & co. Ltd. Cape Town
1997.

[9]               Badaiki, A. D., Consumer Protection and standard form contracts in Nigeria, Chrisdom Publishers,
Lagos, 1999.
[10]             Harvey, B. W., Parry D. I., The Law of consumer Protection and Fair Trading (5th ed.) London; Butter
Worths   1996.
[11]             Kanyip, B. B., Historical Analysis of Consumer Protection Law in Nigeria (Lagos NIALS) 1997
[12]             Kanyip, B. B., Consumers, Producers Hegemony and the Nigerian Economy (Kaduna Law research
Project) 1999.
[13]             Oughton, D. W., A consumer Protection Law, Text, Cases and Material (Blackstone Press Ltd.,
London) 1991.
[14]              Monye, F.N., Law of Consumer Protection,( Spectrum Books Ltd., Ibadan, 2003).                            
[15]             Kanyip, B.B., Consumer Protection in Nigeria Law, Theory and Policy, Rekon Books Limited, 2005.
[16]             Adedeji, A., and Skankyula T.S., (ed), Law and Principles of Consumer Protection, NIALS, Lagos,               2013.
[17]             Badaiki, A. D., Deceptive and Unfair Trade (1988) vol. 2 No. 3 NJFIL 184.
[18]             Badaiki, A. D., Towards an International Legal Regime of consumer Protection for developing
countries; Nigeria as a case study (1993) Justice Vol. 6 No. 4.
[19]             Jaiswal, J.V.N., Telephone and Consumer, Eastern Book Company, 2003.
[20]             Attah, M. E., Current trends and future development in Telecommunications in Nigeria – presented at
 the 1988 Annual Conference of the Nigerian Association of Radio Science, Lagos.
[21]             Ayuba, A. T.,“Address by the Minister of Communications on the occasion” of the 18th World        Telecommunication Day, Lagos 1986.
[22]             Akomolede, T.I., Contemporary Legal Issues in Electronic Commerce in Nigeria, Potchetsfroom
Electronic Law Journal 2008 available at http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php.
[23]             Ayorinde, D., Enhancing Electronic Payments, the News 06 October 2003 P. 33.
[24]             Chinedu, N.O. etal Analysis of the Negative Effects of the Automated Teller Machine(ATM) as a    channel                 for Delivering Banking Services in Nigeria, in International Journal of Business and               Management. Vol. 7 No. 7; April 2012.
[25]             Clarke, “Electronic Commerce Definitions.” Available at http://www.Lanu.edu.au/people/Rogar. Clarke/EC/EC Defns. Html.
[26]             Iromantu, O. C., “Modes of Deregulation and liberalisation of Telecommunications for Africa and
Middle   East”, paper presented at Africa Telecom Cairo Egypt April 1994.
[27]             Mark, D. A. B., “Address by the Minister of Communications on occasion” of the 22nd World          Telecommunication Day Lagos, May 1990.
[28]             Muhammad, A.K. An empirical study of Automated Teller Machine Service and Customer Satisfaction
in Pakistani Banks European Journal of Social Sciences, Vol. 13 No. 3, 2010
[29]             Ndukwe; E., “The telecommunication Revolution in Nigeria” being the text of the convocation lecture         delivered at the Igbinedion University, Okada on 22nd Dec. 2011 at the annual convocation ceremony
of the University.
[30]             Ogunsemor, A.O. Banking services: The Emergence and Impact of Electronic banking – The Nigeria
Banker. January–March 1992.
[31]             Salawu, R. I., “Telecommunications in focus”, 10th Anniversary Lecture for 2 ways Communications
Ltd. Lagos, November 1991.
[32]             Wole, M.O., and Louisa, J.I. The Adoption of Automated Teller Machines in an Application of the                 Theory of Diffusion of Innovation Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology, Vol. 6
 2009 pgs 374–393.
[33]             Zwass, v., Electronic Commerce: Structures and Issues, International Journal of Electronic Commerce
1996.
[34]             Obani, P., Exit, Voice and Indifference: case study of consumers in the Nigerian Global Systems for              Mobile (GSM) service market, University of Benin Journal of Business Law Vol. 1, No. 1 2013.
[35]             Asagh, J.M., Consumer Protection and Telecommunications Services in Nigeria: Regulatory and Policy Issues, Law and Principles of Consumer Protection, NIALS, Lagos, 2013.
[36]             Deuteronomy 22:8.
[37]             Badaiki, A.D., Consumer protection and Standard Form contracts in Nigeria, Chrisdom publishers
Lagos 1999. P.16.
[38]             Ibid.
[39]             (1985) 5 SC. 317; (1985) 1 NWLR (PT.4) 739.
[40]             Kanyib, B. B., “Consumer Redress” MPJFIL VOL. 2 NO. 2 1998 pp 76-98.
[41]             Ibid.
[42]             Ibid.
[43]             Ibid.
[44]             Ibid .
[45]             Ibid.
[46]             Ibid.
[47]             Murphy (then Australian Attorney-General) Introducing the Trade Practices Bill at the
Common Wealth of Australia in the protection and the Trade practices Act 1974 of Deral L, Rev. At
286.
[48]             Kanyip, B.B., Consumer Protection in Nigeria: Law, Theory and Policy, Recon Books Ltd. Abuja,
             2005 P. 36.
[49]             Smith, A., Inquiry into Nature and causes of the wealth of Nation (Liberty classics Indianapolis) 1981
P. 660.
[50]             Unreported Suit No.  K/233/2007.
[51]             Oughton, D. W., A Consumer Protection Law, Text, Cases and Materials (Blackstone Press Ltd.,
London) 1991 P. 11– 12.
[52]             Badaiki, A. D., Towards an International Legal Regime of Consumer Protection for Developing
Countries; Nigeria as a case study (1993) Justice Vol. 6 No. 4 P.43.
[53]             Cap. C34 LFN 2010.
[54]             Cap. T12 LFN 2010.
[55]             Cap. W3 LFN 2010.
[56]             Cap. S9 LFN 2010.
[57]             Cap. F32 LFN 2010.
[58]             Cap. H4 LFN 2010.
[59]             Cap. N1 LFN 2010.
[60]             Cap. A7 LFN 2010.
[61]             Cap. C25 LFN 2010.
[62]             Ibid.
[63]             Cap. N97 LFN 2010.
[64]             Kanyip, B.B., Consumers, Producer and the Nigerian Economy, International  Law Centre, Kaduna   
1999 p .36.
[65]             Giwa, A.O., “Marketing Ploys, The Law and The Nigerian Consumer” (1994/95) 4 EDSULJ P.113.
[66]             Cap. C 25 LFN 2010.
[67]             (1886) K.B. 1 EX. 265.
[68]             Abouzaid v. Mother Care (U.K) Ltd. 2000 B3/00/227.
[69]             Gasioku, M.O.U., “Legal Research and Methodology”, Chenghlo Limited (2006) at 13 defined it as the        research into law in a normative science. That is, a science which lays down norms and standards for human behaviour in a specified situation or situations, enforceable through the sanction of law.
[70]             It is defined as a statement of the law itself from a governmental entity, such as a court, legislature
             and executive agency. See Georgetown University Law Library Legal Research Definitions                 http://www.11.georgetown.edu/tutorials/definitions/primary source.html  accessed 21/08/2014.
[71]             It is defined as materials that discuss, explain, interpret and analyse what the law is or what it should
               be. They provide extensive citations to primary legal materials and other relevant secondary sources.  
              See Georgetown University Law Library Legal Research Definitions                 http://www.11.georgetown.edu/tutorials/definitions/secondary source.html  accessed 21/08/2014. 

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