About 12 million active SIM cards that are yet to be linked with their owners’ National Identity Numbers (NIN) may be blocked by their telecom operators following the Nigerian Communications Commission’s (NCC) directive.
The NCC has issued February 28, 2024, as the deadline for the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) to block subscribers without their NINs and those whose NINs have not been verified.
As at September, the NCC hinted that about 12.3 million active SIM cards were yet to be linked with their owners’ NINs.
According to a statement jointly signed and issued yesterday in Abuja by the ALTON Chairman, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, ALTON has pledged to block subscribers without NINs and those whose NINs have not been verified.
The NCC had issued a directive dated December 15, 2023, for telecommunications operators to commence full network barring of the affected MSISDNs on the effective dates.
“We have directed all telecommunication companies, and also communicated to our members to implement full network barring on all MSISDNs for which the subscribers have not submitted their National Identity Numbers (NINs), and those without verified NINs,” Adebayo said.
He said that all the affected subscribers must be verified (biometrics and bio-data) before their lines would be unbarred.
“The importance of the NIN cannot be overemphasised. It is crucial for Nigeria’s reliable and sustainable National Identity Management System. It enables economic inclusion and access to government services and helps address security concerns.
“Supporting the NIN initiative is necessary for a thriving digital economy and a safer society.
“Therefore, our members are committed to implementing the directive as law-abiding corporate citizens who highly support the government’s objective to build a digital economy.
“We, therefore, wish to appeal to esteemed subscribers to kindly enrol for NINs or submit their NINs through the appropriate channel advertised by members to avoid full suspension of services by the set deadlines.
“This is part of an industry-wide directive that requires phone lines for which the subscribers have not submitted their NINs to be barred on or before 28 February 2024. About NINs that have been submitted but not verified, such lines are to be barred on or before 29 March 2024, where five or more lines are linked to an unverified NIN.
“Similarly, where less than five lines are linked to an unverified NIN, such lines are to be barred on or before 15 April 2024. All affected subscribers must be verified (biometrics and bio-data) before their lines are unbarred,” the statement read.
The current directive is a follow-up to the NCC’s directive of April 2022 requiring operators to restrict outgoing calls (one-way barring) for subscribers whose lines are not associated with NINs.
“We encouraged affected subscribers to submit their NINs for verification,” it said.
It should be recalled that the Federal Government commenced implementing the SIM/NIN harmonisation programme in December 2020 through the NCC.
To avoid service restrictions, the programme requires all telecommunications subscribers to link their NINs to SIM registration records.
The linking involves validating the NIN with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), and matching the subscriber’s NIN records with the SIM registration information (verification) to ensure proper subscriber identification.