NCC CEO, Eugene Juwah
Concerns were raised at the weekend that the activities of some recalcitrant vendors who engage in the sale of pre-registered SIM cards of the various GSM networks may rubbish the N6.1billion SIM registration undertaken by the National Communications Commission (NCC) last year.
Following the nationwide registration, the NCC had forbidden the GSM operators from selling pre-registered SIM cards.
However, the sale of pre-registered SIMs have been reported in various parts of the country, prompting market watchers to ask about the efficacy of SIM card registration in the first case.
For instance, the leader of NCC enforcement team in Benue State, Mr. Salisu Abdul, said last week that no fewer than 12 vendors had been arrested in the area.
``Holders of unregistered SIM could only receive calls but could not make calls or recharge until the SIM is registered but we were able to make calls within minutes of the purchase without registering such SIM,’’ he said.
He said his team in collaboration with the police had arrested five suspects each in Niger and Benue, while two others were arrested in Kogi.
Abdul told News Agency of Nigeria that the suspects were found in possession of pre-registered SIM cards of all the four major GSM network providers and were selling them to members of the public.
He said the sale of pre-registered SIM cards is a criminal offence.
The team leaders said this was because criminals could use such SIM cards to commit crimes and cover their trail to avoid arrest.
Abdul said the team was able to discover the illegal vendors in all the states they visited.
They did this by recharging and making calls with the SIM cards purchased from such vendors, minutes after they were purchased from the suspects.
Abdul said when the commission adopted the policy of SIM card registration, it placed no restriction as to the number of SIM cards one could register.
He said this had, however, turned out to be a great challenge to the commission owing to the activities of illegal vendors.
He said the enforcement exercise was being conducted all over the country at the moment as the commission was determined to mop up all illegal SIM cards.