The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy,Dr. Isa Ali-Pantami, has directed the National Communication Commission, NCC, to ensure that no individual Nigerian owns more than three SIM cards
NCC was also directed to ensure that the National Identity Number (NIN) becomes a prerequisite for Nigerians registering new SIM cards, while for foreigners use their passports and visas. Already registered SIM cards are to be updated with the NIN before December 1, 2020.
Telecom operators will also be required to block all unregistered SIMs from functioning on their networks.
The directive came in the wake of the rising wave of killings and kidnapping for ransom and general insecurity.
“This is in line with the Powers of the minister as stated in Section 25(1) of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003- “the Minister shall, in writing, from time to time notify the Commission or and express his views on the general policy direction of the Federal Government in respect of the communications sector.
The updated policy is expected to include the following provisions, amongst others:
1Ensure that the National Identity Number (NIN) becomes a prerequisite for Nigerians registering new SIM cards (while for foreigners, their passports and visas should be used), while already registered SIM cards are to be updated with National Identity Number (NIN) before 1st December, 2020;
2.Ensure that only fully-accredited agents support the SIM card registration process without pre-registering SIM cards themselves, while the eventual registration should be done by the operators;
3.There should be a maximum number of SIM cards that can be tied to a single individual, possibly a maximum of three;
4. Ensure that no unregistered SIMs are ever allowed on mobile networks;
5.Ensure that subscribers can easily check the number of SIM cards registered to their name, along with the associated phone numbers and networks;
6.Ensure that mobile network operators fortify their networks against cyberattacks and ensure that they adhere to the provisions of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR); and
7.Ensure that SIM cards that have been used to perpetrate crimes are permanently deactivated.
Commenting on the directive, telecommunication operators said the new measures may not stop criminal activities in the country. The President of the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola said the next move by criminals will be to get as many NINs they need to register SIM cards for their nefarious activities.
Teniola listed post-code system and digital address system as measures that worked in other climes including the United Kingdom (UK) and Ghana, as he urged the Minister to take the issue of digital address system seriously