Last year, the Federal Government issued a directive that all improperly registered sim cards should be deactivated. To that effect, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has announced that it has successfully deactivated 9.2 million SIM cards.
The development was announced by the executive vice-chairman of the NCC, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta in Abuja during the weekend.
Improper Sim registration in Nigeria
Since the inception of Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card registration in Nigeria 9 years ago, the country has been working towards getting all active cards properly registered.
In June 2015, NCC made efforts towards achieving this by directing all mobile operators in the country to deactivate improperly and pre-registered SIMs.
Telecoms that didn’t comply with the mandate were fined heavily. A good example is the N330 million fine imposed on MTN after the telecom giant failed to disconnect all non-registered SIM cards.
In 2016, the commission further instructed that SIM Registration should only take place in accredited locations with verified registration agents. This was after some registration agents were arrested with caches of fully activated SIMs.
Last year, the NCC’s short-term performance target report submitted to the FG revealed that an estimated 9.2 million active sim cards did not comply with the proper procedure of sim registration.
In reaction to the huge number of improperly registered SIM cards recorded, the Minister of Communications, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, directed the NCC to deactivate all wrongly registered SIM cards.
NCC has deactivated over 9 million SIM cards
According to Danbatta, as at the time the Minister issued the directive to disconnect, the commission through its Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement team had reduced the number of improperly-registered SIM cards to 9.2 million.
He, however, said that the directive helped to significantly boost the efforts of the commission.
“Our efforts received a boost, following the implementation of a September 12, 2019 Ministerial directive that the NCC should compel service providers to block all improperly-registered SIM cards, pending when their owners regularise their registration.”
He further revealed that within a week of the directive, the NCC intensified efforts and reduced the number of improperly-registered SIM cards from 9.2 million to 2.2 million.
“We have since initiated the second phase of SIM deactivation based on the Ministerial directive and as at today, we have completely deactivated the remaining 2.2 million lines on the networks.
According to the NCC, there are currently over 184 million properly registered SIM cards across Mobile Network Operators with valid data and traceable users.
The commission according to Danbatta has created a SIM Registration Industry Task Force to further rid mobile networks of improperly or invalidly-registered SIM cards.
Also, Pantami recently revealed plans to review the policy on sim registration. This would materialise in the form of a new policy that could see the SIM registration process harmonised with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).
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