FG Directs SIM Card be Linked to National Identity Number

•Minister gives two-week deadline for compliance
•Subscribers protest suspension of new registration

Emma Okonji

Following the earlier directive issued by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on the suspension of new SIM card registration by network operators, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, on Monday, issued a fresh directive that makes it compulsory for all SIM cards to be linked to National Identity Number (NIN).

The minister, who gave the fresh directive on Monday in Abuja when he convened an urgent meeting of key stakeholders in the communications industry, gave telecoms operators two weeks to link subscribers’ registered SIM cards on their networks to their NIN, which is currently being issued by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).

The new directive further stated that the submission of NIN by subscribers must take place within two weeks from today December 16, 2020, and end by December 30, 2020.

It also stated that after the deadline, all SIMs without NINs are to be blocked from the networks.
A ministerial taskforce comprising the Minister and all telecoms CEOs among others was constituted as members who will monitor compliance by all networks.

Meanwhile, telecoms subscribers under the aegis of the National Telecoms Subscribers Association of Nigeria (NATCOMS) have called on the federal government to re-direct the NCC to quickly lift the suspension order on the sale and activation of new SIM cards across networks.

According to them, the suspension order has made many Nigerians incommunicado after losing their SIM cards to hoodlums and robbery attacks and could not do a ‘welcome back pack’ to retrieve their mobile lines.

National Chairman of NATCOMS, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, who narrated the ordeals of his members in the past few days in Lagos, said most of his members were victims of the Agege mayhem in Lagos at the weekend, where their mobile phones were forcefully taken away from them by hoodlums who unleashed mayhem on the area.

Pantami, during the stakeholders’ meeting on Monday, warned that violations of the new directive would be met by stiff sanctions, including the possibility of withdrawal of operating licence.

At the meeting, the need to consolidate the achievements of last year’s SIM registration audit and improve the performance and sanity of the sector was exhaustively discussed and all stakeholders agreed that urgent drastic measures have now become inevitable to improve the integrity and transparency of the SIM registration process.

At the meeting, Pantami affirmed the earlier directive to totally suspend the registration of new SIMs by all operators, and operators were asked to ensure that all their subscribers provide valid NIN to update SIM registration records.
NCC, therefore, urged the general public to ensure that their NINs are captured in their SIM registration data and pleaded with subscribers for all the inconveniences, which they might experience as a result of the new directive.

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