The Federal Government has directed telecoms companies in the country to bar SIM cards that are not linked with National Identification Numbers (NIN)f making calls.
This was disclosed by the Nigerian Communications Commissions (NCC) on Monday following several extensions approved by the regulator.
As of February, Nigeria has 198.1 million mobile subscribers according to an industry data by the NCC.
This implies that 73.1 million SIM cards will be disconnected by network operators.
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The NCC said, “President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the implementation of the Policy with effect from the 4th of April, 2022. Consequently, the Federal Government has directed all Telcom to strictly enforce the Policy on all SIMs issued (existing and new) in Nigeria.
“Outgoing calls will subsequently be barred for telephone lines that have not complied with the NIN-SIM linkage Policy from the 4th of April, 2022.
“Subscribers of such lines are hereby advised to link their SIMs to their NINs before the Telcos can lift the restriction on their lines.
Affected individuals are hereby advised to register for their NINs at designated centers and thereafter link the NINs to their SIMs through the channels provided by NIMC and the Telcos, including the NIMC mobile App.”
The NCC had on April 1, 2022 approved a last minute window for Nigerians to link their NIN to their SIM cards.
The regulator said as of date, over 125 Million SIMs have had their NINs submitted for immediate linkage, verification and authentication.
The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) had issued over 78 million unique NINs till date.
President Buhari had given the directive for the implementation and commencement of the exercise in December 2020, as part of the administration’s security and social policies, the NCC said.
The deadlines for the NIN-SIM linkage have been extended on multiple occasions to allow Nigerians to freely comply with the Policy.
The government extended the deadline by three weeks to January 19, for subscribers that already have NIN.
For those that did not have NIN, the government shifted it by six weeks to February 9 and subsequently April 9, 2021, June 30, 2021, July 26, 30th December 2021 and March 30, 2022.
NCC said, “The FG also took into consideration the passionate appeals by several bodies – Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Civil Societies, Professional Bodies and a host of others – for the extension of the deadlines in the past.
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“Mr. President graciously approved the many requests to extend deadlines for the NIN-SIM linkage. At this point however, the Government has determined that the NIN-SIM Policy implementation can proceed, as machinery has already been put in place to ensure compliance by citizens and legal residents. The implementation impacts on Government’s strategic planning, particularly in the areas of security and socio-economic projections.”
The Minister of Communication Isa Ali Pantami extended his appreciation to the Executive Vice-Chairman of the NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Dambatta, the Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Engr. Aliyu Azeez Abubakar.
Pantami further emphasized that enrolment for the NIN is a continuous exercise and NIN is a precondition for service in Telcos, banks, Nigerian Immigration Service, and for several other government services.
The minister also enjoined Nigerians and legal residents to visit NIN registration centers for the enrollment and issuance of valid NINs.