I have heard many sordid stories of brazen fraud being championed in Nigeria by service providers, especially those of foreign origin-not in my wildest imagination did I ever imagine I'd be a victim someday. Well, the story now has me as "tragic figure"; I am now a perplexed recipient of the worst type of disservice by a firm that apparently thrives on stealing other people's money.

On Monday, November the 28th I had gone to an Airtel Customer Centre on Adeniran Ogunsanya, Surulere Lagos, to complain about some annoying issues relating to the horrible service Airtel was dishing out to me. My BlackBerry Internet Service was disrupted for more than 24hrs even though I was still within my data plan, and I could not place a call within same period too. As always, I had tried in vain to contact Airtel on 111 which they claim gives one access to a "Customer Service Adviser". Thus, my trip to the said Airtel outlet in Surulere which instead of solving my problem, heaped more sorrows on my already harassed psyche.

While on a queue in front of the Airtel office, I placed a call to an MTN number which lasted for exactly six seconds. Immediately I hung up, I was practically wrestled to the ground by a "balance alert" which gleefully informed me that Airtel has charged me more than N500 [five hundred Naira] for the six seconds call! Reeling from the shock of this brazen early morning heist, I walked into the Airtel office where I breathlessly tabled my complaint. The kind lady that attended to me gave me the usual official hogwash about "I have forwarded your case to the appropriate section and your money will be refunded in about 24hrs..." I have gone back again to demand why my money has not been refunded and the same misleading promise was made.

From my investigation so far, I have been confronted with the shocking fact that Airtel seems to have a particular flair for defrauding customers most of who grumble in silence which amounts to an impotent rage. This is a notorious aspect of our national life-moaning about a nasty situation, doing nothing about it other than to submit that "na God go judge o".

This is the same Airtel that attempted to criminally retrench hundreds of their Nigerian call-centre workers so they could import providers of same service from India. I have been living in Nigeria for about two months now and I make bold to say that Airtel is apparently into some very shoddy and cruel practices which at the end of the day, saves them piles of cash while leaving their millions of mugu customers [including me] gasping for air.

I have decided to bring this particular case to this public domain so as to enlighten our compatriots about the fraud that is being skilfully run by Airtel Nigeria. The reason why this ugly practice is still finding the oxygen that sustains its lecherous existence could be found in the sinful truth that most of our fellow citizens are unlettered. Regretfully, most of the enlightened ones remain aloof to the sharp practices of firms like Airtel Nigeria.

This is really unbelievable. A company that owes its existence to the tremendous patronage of her numerous subscribers turning around to design a "perfect" scam for the sole purpose of fleecing them! Well, the amount being stolen from one hapless subscriber might seem negligible until one attempt to imagine how many of such cases happen daily-and are unreported. You might decide to ignore the fact that Airtel charges you twice for each sms sent because the amount involved seems tiny-think of how many other chaps are being robbed in the same manner and you will realize the profitability of the scam!

Anyway, I have given Airtel enough time to address this shambolic fraud expertly carried out on me. Apart from other options which are available to me in my quest for justice, I will stoutly continue to expose the numerous sharp practices which represent the services of Airtel Nigeria. It will be wrong and pertinent of me to keep quiet in the face of this wicked fraud being perpetrated against Nigerians by Airtel Nigeria. Airtel Nigeria is a service provider and must be made to explain why it chooses to fleece Nigerians-it is wrong, completely myopic of this company to think that Nigeria is a place where fraud can continue to go unchallenged.

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