Telcos Bar 75-Million Unlinked SIMs in Nigeria

On Monday, telecommunication companies in Nigeria heeded the Federal Government’s command to bar every unlinked Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card without National Identification Number (NIN) on their various networks, in a bid to control insecurity, extortions, and abductions.

According to The Guardian, the Federal Government through the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy had ordered the operators to bar all ongoing calls to unlinked SIM cards in the country.

In December 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered that all phone lines be linked to an identification number to help control incidents of abduction in the country.

Officials from some telecom operators have confirmed receiving letters from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and have since started barring outgoing calls from all unlinked SIMs on their networks.

Nigeria’s Kidnapping Woes

Reportedly, there has been an increase in terrorist attacks and kidnappers in the West African country who ask for ransom money from families despite Buhari’s solution to link phone lines.

Kidnappers use unregistered SIMs to call the families of their victims to ask for a ransom. The new order means that 75 million Sims that are not registered with NIN will not be able to make calls.

Isa Pantami, Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, disclosed that since the time government started sanitising its database no individual or official with the legal power to ask for bio-data and other information with regards to NIN-SIM for a rescue mission has come forward to ask the ministry for this information.

“President Buhari has approved for them to do it without even our intervention as a ministry. So, with that approval, NCC has conveyed that through my office to all relevant institutions that Mr President has granted approval for such. So, with it, they can get databases even without our permission,” Pantami said.

“But since then, they (security agents) have never complained or come to me even once to demand information from the database. The only person that wrote a letter to me was the Minister of Defence, saying that we should try to finish the NIN-SIM exercise on time,” he said.

By Zintle Nkohla

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