Thursday, July 22, 2004

Nigeria: panic over "killer" phone calls

I thought this story was a spoof (à la Onion) ... it isn't.
A Nigerian mobile telephone firm on Monday sought to quash a widespread rumour that users answering calls from two "killer numbers" had been struck dead on the spot.

Over the weekend Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, was gripped by reports that calls from the numbers 0802 311 1999 and 0802 222 5999 had slain subscribers who answered them. (source)
The story that either sparked or fueled the panic appeared in the Daily Champion late last week ...
Yesterday [July 16], our sister Daily Champion broke the story on the fret over GSM phone calls, when it exclusively reported the numbers alleged to be deadly.

[...] Mr. [Emeka] Oparah, [Vmobile's public relations manager] who was reacting to our exclusive story Friday, said "whereas one of the numbers (08023111999) actually belongs to a subscriber on our network, the second number (08022225999) is non-existent".

He quickly added that from "an engineering point of view, it is absolutely impracticable, and there is no such record whatsoever anywhere in the world, that any one has died or can die from merely receiving or making a phone call on GSM or any other telecommunications platform".

However, those making the matter an issue for open discussion claim that evil "metaphysicians could do anything." (source)
This Day has a brief mention of the story ...
Following the recent report in one of the national dailies (Not THISDAY) ...