NCC Plans Second Phase of SIM Registration Verification, Compliance Audit

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Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta

Emma Okonji

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Thursday, declared its intention to commence the second phase of its ongoing audit of SIM registration data and registration processes across all Mobile Network Operator (MNO) platforms.

According to a statement from NCC, the exercise, which would commence shortly, was necessary to provide further assurance on the integrity of its Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) registration database.

The statement added that the audit is specifically to monitor operators’ strict adherence to the technical and other specifications for the subscriber registration as prescribed by the NCC’s Telephone Subscribers Registration Regulations of 2011 and the Technical Standards and Specifications issued by the commission in 2011 and subsequently thereafter.

The commission however, stated that the audit would be without prejudice to the ongoing “backend verification and scrubbing” of SIM registration data already submitted to the commission by MNOs such as MTN, Glo, Airtel, 9mobile and ntel.

According to the Executive Vice Chairman of the commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, “the NCC is very sensitive to the fact that the subscriber registration database is a veritable tool being used by security and law enforcement agencies in the detection and apprehension of criminal elements involved in heinous crimes like kidnapping, financial crimes, armed robberies, banditry, cattle rustling and other crimes, which leverage on easy access to the national telecoms network. As such, we are determined to continue to ensure that all SIM cards are traceable to their real owners with the least effort”.

He also noted that the verification exercise was a continuation of the NCC’s consistent regulatory interventions to ensure a clean and credible SIM registration database.

The effort started with the enactment of the Subscriber Registration Regulations and registration specifications in 2011. It was significantly ramped up in August 2015 when the MNOs were given a deadline to disconnect SIMs found not to be fully compliant with registration requirements, with the attendant consequences. It continued with the setting up of a SIM Registration Task Force in 2017 to further harmonise registration practices across all networks, and it culminated in the recent establishment of a joint Industry Working Group comprising of senior representatives of the NCC, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and MNOs. The Working Group was set up with the singular mandate of harmonising the subscriber registration process with the National Identity Card Registration project.

“Currently, verification and scrubbing of SIM Registration data is ongoing. This is to ensure the integrity of data submitted to the Commission by the MNOs, before we feed the cleaned-up data to the central database warehoused by NIMC. The audit is a natural next step to ensure that not only is the data already submitted fully compliant, but that operators maintain the highest standards of registration practices across all their touch-points so that the subscriber data they are collecting continues to serve the national security and other interests for which subscriber registration was mandated,” Danbatta said.