Why NCC deactivated 2.2m SIM cards in Nigeria

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

For improper registration in view of the current mounting security challenges in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has deactivated over two million improperly registered Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards across the mobile network operators.

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman (EVC) of NCC, said this in Abuja, FCT, recently.

Prof. Danbatta stated that the development is in line with the key agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari to improve the security of lives and property for all Nigerians.

“By our records, all improperly registered Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards across Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in Nigeria have been completely deactivated.”

Over the years, the NCC has tenaciously worked with determination and through various policy initiatives, to rid mobile networks of improperly or invalidly-registered SIM cards, he said.

This, Danbatta disclosed, is “to ensure that all the current over 184 million registered SIM cards/mobile lines have valid data that are traceable and not anonymous.

“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,” the NCC EVC said.

He added: “As of the time the ministerial order was issued, the Commission, through its Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement team, had reduced the number of improperly registered SIM cards on mobile networks in the country to 9.2 million.

“As part of the Commission’s ongoing regulatory interventions such as the setting up of the SIM registration industry task force, which led to several resolutions, including the Industry Working Group (IWG) on harmonisation of SIM registration process with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to ensure a clean SIM database, the Commission, in June 2019, commenced the second round of comprehensive verification audit of MNOs’ SIM card registration.

“We have since initiated the second phase of SIM deactivation based on the ministerial directive, and as of today, we have completely deactivated the remaining 2.2 million lines on the networks.

“This is contrary to reports by a section of the media, suggesting that nothing has been done with respect to the issue of improperly-registered SIM cards,” he said.

The NCC boss assured all stakeholders that the commission will continue to aggressively pursue the national objectives of delivering an accurate database of telephone subscribers in Nigeria.

The SIM data submitted to the NCC is constantly being validated for higher efficiency to support the national security objectives of the SIM registration exercise through NCC’s zero tolerance for deviations from the proper registration process.

“I also take this opportunity to restate the Commission’s commitment to the periodic SIM data audit, continuous compliance monitoring exercise on the MNOs, as well as constant consumer education and engagement against using improperly-registered SIM cards.

“With this, we would be able to collectively, address national security concerns, especially kidnappings, banditry, armed robberies, cattle rustling, and other crimes associated with SIM cards across the nation, and to ensure that all SIM cards are traceable to their real owners,” Danbatta added.

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