FG Directs Telcos to Deactivate 9.2m Improperly Registered SIM Cards

Minister of Communications, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami

Emma Okonji

Citing national security risks over improperly registered Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) Card across all telecoms networks, the Minister of Communications, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami has given directive to telecoms operators (Telcos), through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to deactivate 9.2 million SIM cards belonging to Nigerian subscribers that were improperly registered across various networks.

Pantami made the disclosure of his directive Thursday, when members of the Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), paid him a courtesy visit at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja.

In line with the earlier directives of the minister to all agencies and parastatals under his purview, on assumption of office last month, the NCC, submitted its baseline short-term performance targets report, where it noted that 9.2 million SIM cards were not properly registered across all networks.

Worried about the figure, the minister quickly gave directive to all telcos to deactivate all improperly registered SIM cards on their networks, and to reactivate them as soon as the owners of the SIM cards regularise their registration.

The NCC report to the minister, which was signed by the Executive Vice Chairman of the commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, contained precise figures of improperly registered SIM cards in use around the country. The commission in its report disclosed that an estimated 9.2 million SIM cards did not comply with the proper procedures of SIM registration.

According to Pantami, the move to deactivate the 9.2 million improperly registered SIM cards became necessary, following the increasing rate of kidnapping and other crimes across the country and the families of the kidnapped victims were often contacted with mobile phones that have SIM cards that were not properly registered.

Pantami however said that once the owners of the SIM cards regularise their registration, they would be reactivated and their SIM cards will start working again.

NCC had since discovered that most Nigerians did not properly registered their SIM cards during the initial registration, while carrying out SIM card harmonization process across all networks.