…orders suspension of sale of new SIM cards

Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has urged Nigerians to obtain and submit their National Identity Number, NIN, to their network operators to ensure safety and improved security in the sector.

A revised statement released by the Director for Public Affairs, NCC, Ikechukwu Adinde, yesterday, stated that the directive became necessary against the background of the “preponderance of pre-registered SIMs with the attendant security implications associated with the use of the same to facilitate criminal activities.’’

It also announced the suspension of the sale and reactivation of new SIM cards preceding a letter dated December 7 in which the commission said it is embarking on an audit of the subscriber registration database.

“All citizens are urged to immediately secure digital identification from the National Identity Management Commission and submit it to the network operators,” the statement read.

NIN is a form of identification introduced by the federal government and managed by the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, which is currently a prerequisite for getting an international passport.

NIMC is currently harmonizing NIN and the Bank Verification Number, BVN, and has set a five-year target to register all Nigerians after a $430 million World Bank loan for Nigeria’s digital identification for a development project.

BVN is a prerequisite to owning a bank account and it is used to link all bank and pension accounts owned by an individual.

Also, the commission has directed telecommunications companies in the country to suspend the sale and reactivation of new SIM cards.

“In accordance with the federal government’s directive to consolidate the achievements of the SIM card registration exercise and verify compliance, the commission is embarking on an audit of the subscriber registration database to ensure compliance to set quality standards and requirements,” the letter signed by A.I. Sholanke, NCC Director for Projects, read.

“Accordingly, you are hereby directed to suspend the sale and activation of new SIM cards on your network until the audit exercise is completed.

“However, when it is absolutely necessary, an exemption may be granted following approval from the federal government through the Nigerian Communications Commission.

“Please note that failure to comply with this directive will be met with strict sanctions including the possibility of withdrawal of operating license.”

In May 2019, NCC had announced the second phase of an audit of SIM registration data and registration processes.

The exercise started in 2011 with the introduction of the subscriber registration regulations and registration specifications in 2011.

It hit a climax in August 2015 when telcos were given a deadline to disconnect SIMs found not to be fully compliant with registration requirements with the attendant consequences.

In 2019, the commission announced that it found out that SIM registration of 95.7 million subscribers was not properly carried out.

In November 2015, the NCC fined all the four major telcos for violating Section 20(1) of the Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulation of 2011.


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