Dr. Ibrahim Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy has ordered telcos to deactivate any phone line not linked with the user’s National Identity Number (NIN) by December 30.
The Minister’s order that goes into force today grants phone users in Nigeria a two-week grace to link their NIN records with SIM or risk being cut off by their phone network.
No NIN, No Phone
President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has given marching orders to mobile phone networks to cut off phone lines not linked to the owner’s National Identity Number (NIN) by December 30, 2020.
Nigeria’s telecoms industry has 207,954,737 active phone lines, representing 108.94% nationwide teledensity spread and 152,927,670 live internet connections and 87,675,911 live broadband connections as of October, according to NCC statistics.
The telecoms companies met with the Minister on Monday in Abuja to discuss his early order suspending the sale of new SIMs across Nigeria but failed to convince him to reconsider his stance, which was based on the need to review the nation’s phone subscribers’ database.
Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) announced that following the meeting attended by the telcos, the Minister has directed that at the expiration of the deadline, “all SIMs without NINs are to be blocked from the networks.”
According to him, “The general public is hereby urged to ensure that their NINs are captured in their SIM registration data.”
The NCC spokesman sums up key highlights of the Minister’s order which he directed for implementation by all networks in Nigeria include:
i. Affirmation of the earlier directive to totally suspend registration of new SIMs by all operators;
ii. Operators to require all their subscribers to provide valid National Identification Number (NIN) to update SIM registration records;
iii. The submission of NIN by subscribers to take place within two weeks (from today December 16, 2020 and end by 30 December, 2020);
iv. After the deadline, all SIMs without NINs are to be blocked from the networks.
v. A Ministerial Task Force comprising the Minister and all the CEOs (among others) as members is to monitor compliance by all networks;
vi. Violations of this directive will be met by stiff sanctions, including the possibility of withdrawal of operating licence.
Adinde confirms the Technology Times report that the Minister met with telecoms stakeholders on Monday in the wake of his “earlier directive on the suspension of new SIM registration by network operators.”
He says the “had in attendance the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and Management of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), as well as the CEOs and Management staff of all service providers in the industry.
“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.”