Nigeria Records 95.7m Invalid SIM Card Registration in Eight Years

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NCC promises to prosecute fraudulent card holders

Emma Okonji

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), yesterday disclosed that since the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card registration exercise started in 2011, “a total of 151,449,837 registration data of subscribers have been processed, with only 55,749,652 records valid, bringing the total number of invalid SIM card registration to 95,700,185.”

NCC puts the number of invalid SIM card registration from mobile network operators (MNOs) at 63.2 per cent, attributing it to invalid face capturing and fingerprints, which it said, underscored the importance of proper SIM registration.

NCC however, said it would no longer be business-as- usual for perpetrators of fraudulently-registered SIM cards, threatening those indulging in the illegal activity with 25 years of imprisonment, as prescribed by the law.

According to the commission, once an agent engaging in pre-registered SIM cards is arrested, the culpability in such a case will cascade to other players in the SIM registration value chain, including the super agents, the heads of marketing of mobile network operators (MNOs) and possibly the Chief Executives of licensees, who illegally benefit from such illegal SIM registration activities to meet their marketing targets.

Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management at NCC, Mr. Sunday Dare who stated these during the South-south regional sensitisation workshop on the dangers of fraudulently-activated SIM cards organised by the commission in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, insisted that the right things must be done by the registration agents and their MNOs to curb the dangers posed by the menace.

According to Dare who was represented at the forum by the Director, Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement at the commission, Mr. Efosa Idehen, the new moves followed eight years of continuously fighting cases of fraudulently-registered or activated SIM cards by the commission starting from 2012, without appreciable compliance by the MNOs, thus constituting threats to national security and geopardising national interest.

“Unfortunately, despite the level of stakeholder engagements, sanction so far imposed, arrests made and prosecutions secured through working with law enforcement agencies, among others, the level of compliance with the SIM registrations rules by the various players across the SIM registration value chain remains unsatisfactory,” he said.

According to him, the low compliance level has therefore necessitated the need for the sensitisation workshop to, once again educate all players in the SIM registration value chain on the dangers posed by fraudulently-registered SIM cards to the country’s national security.

“It is no longer going to be business-as-usual for all players in the SIM registration value chain. We will no longer allow some deviants to jeopardise our national interest and national security.

“Today, cases of fraudulently-registered SIM cards have been aiding and abeting robbery cases, kidnappings, financial frauds and all manners of criminalities where the anonymity of the registered subscribers makes criminal investigation difficult for the law enforcement agencies.

“That is why we will now be pleading breach of national interest in the prosecution of arrested perpetrators of pre-registered SIM cards,” Idehen said.