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Nigeria Suspends Sale, Registration of New SIM Cards

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has directed mobile network operators to immediately suspend the sale and activation of new SIM cards to allow an audit of the Subscriber Registration Database.

The Director, Public Affairs at NCC, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, in a statement on Wednesday, said it was necessary for operators to comply until the audit had been concluded.

According to him, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has directed the commission to embark on an audit of the database.

He, however, said an exemption might be granted following approval from the federal government through the commission.

He warned that non-compliance with the directive would attract sanctions, including the possibility of withdrawal of operating license.

Adinde said the audit would help to consolidate the achievement of the SIM card registration.

The director explained that the objective of the audit was to ensure compliance with set quality standards and requirements by mobile network operators.

According to him, the directive became necessary in view of the preponderance of pre-registered SIMs with the attendant security implications associated with their use to facilitate criminal activities.

In May 2019, the NCC had announced the second phase of an audit of SIM registration data and registration processes.

The exercise started in 2011 with the introduction of the Subscriber Registration Regulations and Registration Specifications in 2011.

It hit a climax in August 2015 when telcos were given a deadline to disconnect SIMs found not to be fully compliant with registration requirements, or risk being penalised.

In 2019, the commission announced that it found that the SIM registration of 95.7 million subscribers was not properly carried out.

In November 2015, the NCC fined all the four major telcos for violating Section 20(1) of the Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulation of 2011.

Emma Okonji

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