Nigerian government lifts ban on SIM replacement

Respite may have come the way of telecoms subscribers whose phones have been stolen or missing in the last one month as they will now be able to retrieve their lines. This came as the Federal Government adjusted its decision on the suspension of sale and registration of SIMs in the country.

With this adjustment, the government said subscribers whose SIMs have been stolen, misplaced, or damaged can retrieve the same after submitting their National Identity Number (NIN). According to a statement signed by the Director of Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, and the Head, Corporate Communications of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) Mr. Kayode Adegoke, the subscriber must also meet two other conditions, which include ensuring that “an effective verification of the NIN is carried out by NIMC; and that the relevant Guidelines and Regulations of NCC concerning SIM Replacement are fully adhered to.”

Recall that the government had last month ordered the suspension of sale and registration of new SIMs to allow it to carry out a proper audit of the SIM registration database. With the suspension, many subscribers whose phones were stolen or got missing have been thrown into telecoms blackout as they are unable to retrieve their lines. The government subsequently ordered all subscribers to link their SIM registration with the NIN or get blocked.

According to the statement, the Government’s drive to ensure all subscriber registrations are linked with NINs) is moving forward and all stakeholders in the industry are working together to ensure the process is carried out as seamlessly as possible. “The Government would like to seize this opportunity to sincerely appreciate Nigerians for the understanding and commitment demonstrated towards ensuring the overall success of this exercise,” it stated.

A Ministerial Task Force established for the NIN-SIM integration under the Chairmanship of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy set up a Technical Committee made up of representatives of the NCC, NIMC, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON); and the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). The Technical Committee is charged with the operationalisation of the process to ensure an expedited linkage of all SIM Registration Records with NIN.

The statement noted that the Minister approved the SIM replacement policy based on recommendations of the Technical Committee. “This policy is part of the Federal Government’s efforts to reduce the burden on subscribers and simplify the exercise. It is aimed at enabling telecommunications service users who need to replace their damaged, stolen, or misplaced SIMs to re-establish access to telecom services,” the statement read.

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