Home Big Story Nigeria unplugs 2.2m ‘improperly-registered SIM cards’

Nigeria unplugs 2.2m ‘improperly-registered SIM cards’

Nigeria unplugs 2.2m ‘improperly-registered SIM cards’
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The Nigerian telecoms industry is now a zero-tolerance zone for improperly-registered SIM cards following the deactivation of 2.2 million affected lines nationwide, the industry regulator says.

Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), says that the remaining 2.2 million improperly-registered SIM cards across all mobile network operators “in Nigeria have been completely deactivated”, according to a statement by NCC made available to Technology Times.   

The telecoms regulatory agency chief says NCC has “rid mobile networks of improperly or invalidly-registered SIM cards to ensure that all the current over 184 million registered SIM cards/mobile lines across MNOs’ networks have valid data that are traceable and not anonymous.”

The telecoms regulatory agency chief says NCC has “rid mobile networks of improperly or invalidly-registered SIM cards to ensure that all the current over 184 million registered SIM cards/mobile lines across MNOs’ networks have valid data that are traceable and not anonymous.”

smartphone
Mobile phones on display at Ikeja Computer Village in Lagos
Professor Umaru Garba Danbatta speaking to Media Executives at the breakfast meeting in Lagos
Professor Umaru Garba Danbatta speaking to Media Executives at the breakfast meeting in Lagos

The Commission’s efforts in this regard is in line with one of the key agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari to strengthen security of lives and property for all Nigerians, says Danbatta, who spoke at the weekend in Abuja, while underscoring that “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.”

When the Ministerial order was issued, NCC’s Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement unit had reduced the number of improperly-registered SIM cards on mobile networks in the country to 9.2 million, Danbatta says.

Following the September 2019 Ministerial directive, NCC, within a week, intensified efforts by reducing the number of improperly-registered SIM cards from 9.2 million to 2.2 million.

Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)
Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy

“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. 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 says.

Under the plan, NCC has set up the SIM Registration Industry Task Force that 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. 

NCC in June 2019, commenced the second round of comprehensive verification audit of MNOs’ SIM card registrations, which was concluded in August 2019.

“The audit was specifically to ensure strict adherence by telecom operators to the provisions of the Telephone Subscribers Registration Regulations 2011”, Danbatta says.

NCC will continue to aggressively pursue the national objectives of delivering an accurate database of telephone subscribers in Nigeria, he says noting that the SIM data submitted to the regulator is constantly 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 use 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 adds.

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