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NCC Explains: Reasons Behind Disconnection of SIMs Previously Linked to NIN



The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, said yesterday that SIM cards previously linked to the National Identification Numbers, NIN, were barred because they were bad.

It also explained that the job of using NIN to track kidnappers currently terrorising the country is that of the police.


NCC spokesman, Reuben Muoka, who explained in an interview on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, The Morning Brief, said: “People who probably didn’t get a cleared or verified NIN” had been barred because “the earlier ones they submitted were not good.”


He said some SIM cards had verification and identification issues, such as disparity in information, including names and other data.


“There are still some subscribers whose NINs are yet to be verified by the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, and those have to also be corrected,” Muoka said.


It will be recalled that many subscribers have complained that they had previously linked their NIN with their SIM cards years ago but the NCC spokesman said some lines were barred because the information on the NIN did not tally with what the customers registered their SIM cards with.


He said subscribers will have to visit the outlets of their service providers to validate their NINs and resolve other matters.


Muoka added: “For now, it requires those physical visits to the stations to get them verified and validated but in the future, we hope this will be done virtually.’’

The NCC had last week issued a directive to telecom service providers to bar subscribers who have failed to link their phone numbers to their NIN on or before February 28, 2024.

As of December 2023, Nigeria has over 224 million lines, according to data by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, with MTN having over 87 million subscribers, representing 38.79% of the total market share, the highest in the country by any licensed Mobile Network Operator. Globacom and Airtel have 61 million subscribers each, while 9mobile has 13.9 million users.


Millions of lines were barred last week at the expiration of the deadline but the regulator’s spokesman said the NCC had been going through one deadline after another since 2022 to give extension for convenience, stressing it was time to get a closure on the issue.


He insisted that the deadline would no longer be extended.


“Take it that everybody who has not submitted his NIN to the service providers has been barred. Actually, the service providers started barring people many days before the deadline,” he said.

Muoka, however, said it would be difficult to tell the actual number of phone lines that had been barred, adding that the NCC will do an audit before the end of the week as data were expected from service providers.


‘At least 40 million lines blocked’

But the chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, ALTON, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo said at least 40 million telephone lines had been barred as at last weekend.


‘’I can tell you that over 40 million lines have been blocked and the affected customers are those who didn’t submit their NIN at all. Some persons have not presented any NIN to operators. They haven’t registered their SIMs or participated in the harmonisation programme.


“They simply haven’t made any presentation of the NIN number to their operators. So why is the number so alarming, despite repeated warnings? It shows many people still communicate but are not registered,’’ he said.


Speaking further yesterday, Adebayo said: “Yes, we confirm that the industry has complied with regulatory directives in suspension of services to subscribers who have not submitted their NIN for linkage to their SIM.

“We have not received any contrary directives and all subscribers affected by this suspension of services will remain suspended until the NIN is submitted, verified and linked to their SIM.’’


But Muoka said the NIN-SIM linkage has an objective, which was to give Nigerians have digital identity to tackle security matters.


The NCC scribe said: “The whole essence is actually to achieve the convenience that digital services and products will offer.


“By the time you have your identity together, you will be able to attend to several things. Even the banks are now asking their customers to link their NINs to their Bank Verification Numbers, BVNs. It is actually to make a holistic package of all your digital services,” he stated.


From left: APC National Chairman, Abdullahi Ganduje; FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike; Vice President Kashim Shettima, and President Bola Tinubu as the president arrived from a two-day working visit to Doha, Qatar in Abuja yesterday. State House Photo.


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