Panic gripped mobile phone users in Nigeria yesterday as rumors spread that people were dying after answering unknown callers on their mobile phones. Places most hit by the reports included Abuja, Rivers, Lagos, Oyo and Ogun states.
Relations were busy yesterday calling their loved ones and warning them to avoid picking any number that begins or ends with 09114.
The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has debunked such claims describing them as false and advised members of the public to ignore them.
A press statement released and endorsed by Head Media and Public Relations of the commission, Mr. Reuben Muoka said the rumor must be the handiwork of some unscrupulous persons to instill fear in the minds of members of the public.
He said, “Technically, it is not possible for such a thing to happen because even the voice that you receive at the other end of the phone undergoes many conversions. It is therefore unimaginable that somebody will die while receiving a call. It is only very gullible people that will believe such a rumor.”
Muoka said all calls to phone users pass through the switch of network operators where it is processed and identified for billing purposes and that no operator has issued this particular number to any user.
“In so far as this number is not issued by an operator, there is no way such a phone number will be able to call anybody in any of the networks,” he said.
He said he had personally placed a call to this number and it showed it is not a valid number, and therefore, will not be able to make or receive calls.
He said the need to nip such rumor in the bud, justifies the rationale for ongoing SIM card registration exercise in the country which will ensure that all phone users will be identified with their fingerprints and digital photographs.
He urged subscribers to go about their normal businesses and ensure that they all register their SIM cards with either their service providers or NCC appointed agents before the end of the program by month end.
“Some text messages were making the rounds yesterday, with a claim that 10 people have died in Wukari while receiving calls from a particular phone number… 09141, while another version claimed that seven people have died for the same reason,” he said.
Also, Mr. Bolaji Adigun, Chairman, Police Community Relations Committee, Kubwa, FCT, has debunked the rumor making the rounds in the area that people are dying after receiving calls from unknown telephone numbers.
Adigun said the committee had contacted the police, who denied the rumor, saying they had yet to receive any such report.
He said the committee members, accompanied by a police escort, had also gone to Daughters of Charity, a non-governmental organization, NGO, where six persons allegedly died after receiving such telephone calls and it was confirmed that no such incident occurred there.