FG orders suspension of new SIM cards sale, registration
- The federal government has taken a crucial decision on the sale and registration of SIM cards
- The Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy on Wednesday, December 9, put on hold the process till further notice
- At the moment, the government wants strict compliance to the subscriber registration database exercise from all mobile network operators
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In a bid to ensure compliance among mobile network operators until its audit of the subscriber registration database exercise is completed, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has ordered the suspension of the sale of new SIM cards.
The decision of the NCC was made public by its director of public affairs, Ikechukwu Adinde, on Wednesday, December 9.
Adinde noted that the order was given by the minister of communications and digital economy, Isa Pantami.
The NCC spokesman said the process will consolidate the gains of the SIM card registration exercise and the establishment of quality standards by operators.
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However, Adinde said exemptions can be given only by the federal government through the commission, and warned that failure to adhere to this will attract strict sanctions, including the withdrawal of operating license.
Adinde's statement made available to Legit.ng read:
"In line with the federal government desire to consolidate the achievement of the SIM Card registration exercise of September, 2019, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy has directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to embark on another audit of the subscriber registration database again.
"The objective of the audit exercise is to verify and ensure compliance by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) with the set quality standards and requirements of SIM Card Registration as issued by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Commission.
"Accordingly, MNOs are hereby directed to immediately suspend the sale, registration and activation of new SIM Cards until the audit exercise is concluded, and Government has conveyed the new direction.
"However, where it is absolutely necessary, exemption may be granted in writing by the Commission following approval from the Federal Government.
"MNOs are to please note that non-compliance with this directive will be met with strict sanctions, including the possibility of withdrawal of operating license.
"As the Minister has earlier directed in January, 2020, all citizens are urged to immediately secure Digital Identification from the National Identity Management Commission and submit it to the Network Operators."
Earlier, a new policy by the federal government indicated that persons registering new SIM cards would be required to provide their National Identity Numbers (NIN). This was disclosed by the minister on Wednesday, February 5.
According to the minister, non-Nigerians would be required to provide their passports and visas for the process.
Pantami said the policy was based on the “feedback received from the security agencies following the successful revalidation of improperly registered SIM cards in September 2019 and the blocking of those that failed to revalidate their SIMs.”
He informed members of the public that already registered SIM cards should be updated with NIN before Tuesday, December 1, 2020.
He also disclosed that only fully accredited agents can register new SIM cards according to the new policy.
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