NCC warns Telcos over Non-Compliance with SIM-NIN Linkage

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The Nigerian Communications Commission has stated that telecommunication companies will be sanctioned if they do not comply with the directive to block SIM cards not linked to National Identification Numbers.

The Director of Public Affairs at NCC, Reuben Mouka, emphasized that telecom operators must comply with the regulatory directive, or face sanctions for non-compliance.

The NCC Director mentioned that whether the telcos have started complying or not is not an issue, they were instructed to link the SIM cards to NIN and have been given directives, so compliance is expected. If there is evidence of non-compliance, sanctions would be the subsequent action.

When questioned about the start date of the sanction, Mouka responded, "We are unable to provide a specific timeline for when the sanctioning will begin, as it is subject to a regulatory process. But operators who fail to comply will face sanctions.”

In December, telcos were asked by the telecom regulator to deactivate an estimated 12 million lines that have not been linked to the owners' NINs after the February 28, 2024, deadline.

On Wednesday, the NCC reiterated its position on the issue and dismissed the possibility of extending the deadline.

The telecom operators who spoke to our correspondent supported the regulator's decision to disconnect SIMs not linked to NIN.

The Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, Gbenga Adebayo, mentioned that telecom operators will comply with the NCC's directive.

Adebayo stated, “According to the regulatory directives, those numbers that are not properly linked to NIN will have services withdrawn by midnight today. We stand by that regulatory directive, and we are going to comply.”

The federal government, through the NCC, mandated the compulsory linkage starting in December 2020, directing telcos to block calls from unregistered and unlinked NINs.

Despite extensions, over 12 million SIMs are still unlinked to NIN since then.

Enhancing security measures in the country and streamlining the identification process were the main goals of the FG's move to mandate the linking of phone numbers.

The government's goal in restricting the registration of up to four SIMs to a single NIN is to simplify the identification of line owners, allowing for better monitoring and matching of these numbers.

The restriction is designed to combat crime by making individuals accountable for activities related to their registered lines, thereby strengthening security measures against criminal activities like kidnapping, banditry, and terrorism.

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