The government of Nigeria is set to block millions of lines in the next two weeks. This came as it ordered all subscribers in the country to provide valid National Identification Number (NIN) to update their SIM registration records. The submission of NIN by subscribers, the government said, is to take place within two weeks, from tomorrow December 16, 2020 and end by 30 December, 2020.
According to a statement released after an emergency meeting of key stakeholders in the telecommunications industry, which was summoned by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, after the two weeks deadline, “all SIMs without NINs are to be blocked from the networks.”
The meeting where the decision was taken had in attendance the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and Management of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), as well as the CEOs and Management staff of all service providers in the industry. “At the meeting, the need to consolidate the achievements of last year’s SIM registration audit and improve the performance and sanity of the sector was exhaustively discussed and all stakeholders agreed that urgent drastic measures have now become inevitable to improve the integrity and transparency of the SIM registration process,” the statement read.
As of May this year, the NIMC said it had so far registered a total of 41.5 million Nigerians on the NIN database, while many Nigerians have been complaining about the slow and cumbersome process of getting registered. Also, data from the NCC showed that as of October this year, active mobile lines in the country stood at 207.6 million.
Based on the current level of NIN registration and the non-practicability of getting all SIM owners registered in the next two weeks, over 100 million mobile lines may be blocked if the government stands by its decision of blocking any number not linked with NIN after two weeks.
The statement further noted that a Ministerial Task Force comprising the Minister and all the CEOs, among others, as members is to monitor compliance by all networks. “Violations of this directive will be met by stiff sanctions, including the possibility of withdrawal of operating license. The general public is hereby urged to ensure that their NINs are captured in their SIM registration data. All inconveniences which might be occasioned by this directive are deeply regretted,” the statement read.