• Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

SIM-NIN: Telcos to disconnect more subscribers as deadline draws closer

What to know about NIN-SIM deadline

Telecommunication subscribers with unverified National Identity Numbers (NINs) will have their phone numbers barred from making calls, sending SMS and browsing the internet on March 29, according to a directive from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The disconnection process, which began on February 28, 2024, is part of the government’s effort to boost security in the country. The NCC’s directive asked telecommunications companies to bar lines whose NINs have been submitted but not verified by March 29, 2024 and bar those with less than five lines linked to an unverified NIN by April 15, 2024. The move aims to mitigate the potential misuse of multiple SIM cards for illicit activities.

On February 28, 2024, operators cooperated with the NCC in executing the directive’s first phase, which affected 40 million lines.

Gbenga Adebayo, president of the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), told BusinessDay that the SIM-NIN deadline for subscribers with more than five lines whose NINs have not been verified will not be contested.

“This is an open request to the public for those yet to verify their NIN to visit the nearest NIN centres and update their records before the end of the month. Otherwise, they will be disconnected,” he said.

Commenting on what telcos stand to lose when the directive is implemented, Adebayo said the security and integrity of the national database are of greater importance to all operators. Earlier in March, the ALTON boss told BusinessDay that many telecom subscribers would be affected by the March 29, 2024 deadline.

Adeolu Ogunbanjo, national president of the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, said these efforts are aimed at boosting security at all costs, and subscribers should do the right thing by verifying their NIN, especially if they are linked to multiple SIMs.

According to him, an unverified NIN means a subscriber did not perform proper due diligence in the registration process.

He said: “For instance, some subscribers didn’t do their NIN verification process in a registered location, and some information was not disclosed during the process. That is why these subscribers have been asked to return to registered locations to verify their NIN and update all necessary information.

“This is also to ensure that there is no disparity between the information on a SIM and the NIN linked to it.”

Earlier in March, BusinessDay reported that telecom companies risked N242.77 billion in potential revenue after they barred 40 million lines after the February 28 deadline expired.

In its 2023 financial statements, MTN Nigeria disclosed that it disconnected 4.2 million lines after the February 28 deadline. “We also had approximately 4.2 million lines disconnected for which the subscribers did not submit their NIN. Several of these lines were low-value subscribers, minimising the revenue impact,” the telco said.