Federal Govt halts sale, registration of new SIM cards
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has suspended the sale or registration of a new subscriber identity module (SIM) cards by telecoms operators.
It is to enable the government to audit the Subscribers Registration Database.
In effect, no new subscriber can have access to the networks.
The suspension, which was at the instance of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ibrahim Pantami, is in a bid to consolidate on the achievement of the SIM Card registration exercise of September last year.
NCC Director of Public Affairs, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, said in a statement that the objective of the audit “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 Government”.
The statement adds: “MNOs are hereby directed to immediately suspend the sale, registration and activation of new SIM cards until the audit exercise is concluded, and the government has conveyed the new direction.
“However, where it is necessary, an 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 licence.
“As the minister had earlier directed in January, all citizens are urged to immediately secure digital identification from the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and submit it to the Network Operators.”
Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, said there was no need to fret since the directive was temporary.
According to him, the regulator should be commended for the move.
He said: “The reason for an audit of the SIM registration process to ascertain why there are still some pre-registered SIM being sold.
“I believe this is a temporary suspension of SIM registration while industry stakeholders meet to review the process and come up with a better way to handle the process for efficiency and accuracy.”