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NCC restates deactivation of telecoms consumers’ SIM Cards not linked to NINs

*The Nigerian Communications Commission restates its commitment to cleaning up the West African country’s Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Cards ownership database, to further prevent criminals from taking advantage of having ‘multiple unlinked SIMs’ to perpetrate their nefarious activities in the telecoms ecosystem

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

For the umpteen time, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has directed the country’s telecommunications companies (Telcos) to bar calls from Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Cards not yet linked to consumers’ National Identity Numbers (NINs) from Friday, March 29, 2024.

ConsumerConnect reports the telecoms sector regulatory Commission, again, Friday, March 29 stressed the need for subscribers to complete their SIM-NIN linkage, noting that any telecoms consumers whose SIM Cards have not been linked to their NINs would not be allowed to make calls until the linkage is done.

A SIM Card has been described as “an integrated circuit intended to securely store an international mobile subscriber identity number and its related key, which are used to identify and authenticate subscribers on mobile telephone devices.”

Mr. Reuben Muoka, Director of Public Affairs at NCC, who said this in a telephone interview Friday restated that the directive for disconnection is being rolled out in stages, with the second phase set for 29 March as earlier announced.

Muoka noted that the initial phase of the exercise held at the end of February this year.

The Director of Public Affairs stated: “We issued a publication that you can refer to. We specified certain deadlines and stipulated that subscribers who do not comply with the directive would be barred. And that has not changed.

“29th of February was when those that have not submitted their NINs to be linked to the SIMs to be barred and those have been barred.

He equally said: “We published another deadline for those who have submitted their NINs but it failed because it has not been verified, that is the one that is due for disconnection today (Friday, March 29).

“While another set is the ones with ghost verification; these are for those who have more than five numbers.”

The Commission’s position on the SIM-NIN linkage is reportedly hinged on the regulator’s fundamental objective of cleaning up the West African country’s SIM ownership database in the telecoms ecosystem.

Checks, however, indicated though the telecoms industry regulator’s policy on SIM-NIN linkage is expected to help the Nigerian authorities in fighting kidnappers, bandits and terrorists who kidnap and kill innocent people daily, and despite several deadline extensions over time, several telephone lines are yet to be linked.

The NCC, therefore, assured consumers of its commitment to ensuring that criminals do not take advantage of having multiple unlinked SIMs to carry out their nefarious activities.

It is recalled the Federal Government, April 2021, had announced the Max-4 rule, stating that telecoms subscribers cannot have more than four active lines per mobile network operator in Nigeria.

The compulsory linkage had begun in 2020 when the government directed the Telcos to block calls from unregistered and unlinked lines in the ecosystem.

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