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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

NCC to sanction telcos over unlinked sim cards

Regulator Reinforces Deadline Amid Security Concerns and Accountability Drive

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has underscored its resolve to impose sanctions on telecommunication companies that fail to comply with directives to block Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards not linked to National Identification Numbers (NINs).

Reuben Mouka, the Director of Public Affairs at the NCC, emphasized the regulatory mandate, stating that telecom operators must adhere to the linkage directive. Failure to comply will result in sanctions, he cautioned.

Mouka clarified, “It is not an issue whether the telcos have started complying or not. We have asked to link the SIM cards to NIN. We have given our directives, and we expect compliance. So, if there is any evidence of non-compliance, what follows would be sanction.”

Responding to inquiries about the commencement of sanctions, Mouka explained that the regulatory process dictates the timeline. However, he affirmed that any operator failing to comply will face consequences.

The NCC had initially directed telcos to block approximately 12 million lines unlinked to NINs after the February 28, 2024, deadline expired. Reiterating its stance, the NCC dismissed the possibility of extending the deadline, reinforcing the imperative of compliance.

Telecom operators expressed alignment with the regulatory stance, affirming their commitment to disconnecting SIMs not linked to NINs. Gbenga Adebayo, Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, affirmed adherence to the directive.

The linkage initiative, initiated in December 2020, aims to bolster security measures by streamlining identification processes and enhancing accountability for phone line ownership. By limiting registrations to a maximum of four SIMs per NIN, the government aims to facilitate efficient monitoring and accountability, particularly in addressing criminal activities like kidnapping and terrorism.

The Executive Vice Chairman, Aminu Maida, emphasized the significance of data-driven decisions in addressing challenges posed by unregistered SIM cards. Maida reiterated the NCC’s commitment to protecting consumer interests while ensuring licensee compliance and industry improvement.

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