MTN, Mafab Pay $273.6m Each To Clinch 5G Spectrum Licence

This file illustration picture taken on February 17, 2019 shows the 5G wireless technology logo displayed on a tablet in Paris. Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP
This file illustration picture taken on February 17, 2019 shows the 5G wireless technology logo displayed on a tablet in Paris. Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP

 

MTN Nigeria and Mafab Communications Limited have made their full payment of $273.6 million each for the 5G Spectrum licence, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said on Thursday.

In December, the NCC said they won the bid for the 5G licence.  According to a statement issued by the NCC Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, the commission’s Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, has officially confirmed the payment status of the two companies.

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“I wish to officially announce that NCC has received and confirmed payments from MTN and Mafab for their acquisition of 1 slot of 100Mhz each in the 3.5Ghz spectrum auction, which was successfully conducted by the Commission on December 13, 2021. They both met the deadline of February 24, 2022, as set by the Commission,” Danbatta was quoted as saying.

“Arising from this and on behalf of the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, the Board and Management of the NCC, I wish to congratulate the MTN and Mafab for this feat, as we look forward to accomplishing other deployment timelines in the 5G deployment roadmap, as articulated in the National Policy on 5G Networks for Nigeria’s Digital Economy.”

The NCC boss also thanked the Federal Government for its support and commitment to the deployment of 5G technology in Nigeria which, he said, will bring substantial network improvements, including higher connection speed, mobility, and capacity, as well as low-latency capabilities to communications services in Nigeria.

As part of the auction process emplaced by the NCC in the Information Memorandum (IM), the companies alongside Airtel Networks Ltd submitted bids with an initial bid deposit (IBD) of $19.74 million, representing 10 per cent of the Reserve Price of the 3.5GHz Spectrum by the close of the bid submission date of November 29, 2021.

Following the successful auction on December 13, 2021, and the emergence of MTN and Mafab as winners, they were required to pay the balance of the bid amount of $253.86 million on or before February 24, 2022.

However, aside from the $273.6 million payment, MTN paid an additional $15.9 million, being the bidding sum it offered at the assignment state of the spectrum auction, making it clinch its preferred Lot 1 (3500-3600 Megahertz-MHz) in the 3.5Ghz spectrum; while, Mafab Communications, which bided lower at the assignment stage, consequentially settled with Lot 2 (3700-3800Mhz) at no extra cost.

5G Deployment: NCC Conducts Mock Exercise Ahead Of Monday Auction

This file illustration picture taken on February 17, 2019 shows the 5G wireless technology logo displayed on a tablet in Paris. Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP
This file illustration picture taken on February 17, 2019, shows the 5G wireless technology logo displayed on a tablet. Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP

 

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says it has successfully carried out a mock session for the 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum auction for the deployment of the Fifth Generation (5G) network in the country.

NCC spokesman, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, explained that the simulated auction held on Friday in Abuja was preparatory to the main auction scheduled to take place on Monday.

The conduct of the simulation exercise, he said, was in line with the requirements stipulated in the Information Memorandum (IM) for the 3.5 GHz spectrum auction.

READ ALSO: NCC Qualifies Three Telecoms For 5G Auction

The IM is a document that defines the process for the licensing of the 3.5 GHz spectrum band earlier published on the commission’s website at the inception of the auction process.

“Using the Ascending Clock Auction System for the mock session, the three qualified bidders for the 3.5 GHz spectrum, namely MTN Nigeria, Mafab Communications Ltd, and Airtel Networks Ltd, participated in the software-based simulated auction exercise,” the statement said.

“Following the successful mock auction, the stage is set for the commission to license two slots in the 3.5 GHz spectrum band expected to be picked by successful bidders at the end of the Main Auction on Monday, December 13, 2021.

“The auction on Monday will mark a turning point in Nigeria’s determination to harness the benefits of 5G for the nation’s socio-economic growth as the concrete roll-out of 5G commences in 2022.”

Chairman of NCC Board of Commissioners, Professor Adeolu Akande; the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the commission, Professor Umar Danbatta; Executive Commissioner (Technical Services), Ubale Maska, and the Executive Commissioner (Stakeholder Management), Adeleke Adewolu, were among those who witnessed the exercise.

Others include representatives from the bidding companies, senior management staff from relevant departments of the commission, technical consultants, software consultants, legal consultants, and other external observers.

In a brief remark at the mock auction, Danbatta said the commission had taken all necessary steps to ensure due diligence on the credibility of the consultants and to safeguard the integrity of the software solution being used to carry out the implementation of the national assignment.

“This is consistent with the open, credible transparent, and fair manner by which the commission is known to have conducted previous auction processes, which have been locally and globally applauded,” Danbatta was quoted as saying in the statement.

In order to ensure a fail-proof process, Adinde said the NCC also carried out a simulation of the manual process of the auction, aside from the electronic mock.

He explained that this was to make bidders familiar with the manual auction in case of any circumstances on the main action day that may warrant a need to switch to the manual auction.

“It is pertinent to note that the two forms- electronic and manual- are clearly stated in the IM and they follow the same process,” the statement added.

“Representatives of the bidding companies, the commission, the consultants, and other observers at the mock auction expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the simulation exercise, which also provided an opportunity for the commission to perfect the auction process ahead of the main auction.

“The commission had commenced the process for the auction of the 5G spectrum in the last quarter of the 2021 and had, since then, carried out a number of activities ahead of the main auction.”

Cyber Spying: NCC Raises Alarm Over Group Targeting Telcos, ISPs

NCC
A file photo of NCC logo.

 

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has raised an alarm over the existence of another hacking group orchestrating cyberespionage (cyber spying) in the African telecoms space.

In a statement on Monday by its spokesman, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, the agency explained that the notification became necessary to keep stakeholders in the country’s telecoms sector informed, educated, and protected.

“An Iranian hacking group known as Lyceum (also known as Hexane, Siamesekitten, or Spirlin) has been reported to be targeting telecoms, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and Ministries of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Africa with upgraded malware in a recent politically motivated attacks oriented in cyberespionage,” Adinde said in the statement.

“Information about this cyber-attack is contained in the latest advisory issued by the Nigerian Computer Emergency Response Team (ngCERT). The ngCERT rated the probability and damage level of the new malware as high.

“According to the advisory, the hacking group is known to be focused on infiltrating the networks of telecoms companies and ISPs. Between July and October 2021, Lyceum was implicated in attacks against ISPs and telecoms organisations in Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia.”

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The Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) group, according to the NCC spokesman, has been linked to campaigns that hit Middle Eastern oil and gas companies in the past.

He added that the group now appears to have expanded its focus to the technology sector, and is responsible for a campaign against an unnamed Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Africa.

 

Spear-Phishing Attacks

Adinde listed Lyceum’s initial onslaught vectors – by the attackers’ mode of operation – to include credential stuffing and brute-force attacks.

He explained that once a victim’s system was compromised, the attackers would conduct surveillance on specific targets while Lyceum would attempt to deploy two different kinds of malware – Shark and Milan (known together as James).

“Both malware are backdoors,” the NCC spokesman stated. “Shark, a 32-bit executable written in C# and .NET, generates a configuration file for domain name system (DNS) tunnelling or Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) C2 communications, whereas Milan – a 32-bit Remote Access Trojan (RAT) retrieves data.

“Both are able to communicate with the group’s command-and-control (C2) servers. The APT maintains a C2 server network that connects to the group’s backdoors, consisting of over 20 domains, including six that were previously not associated with the threat actors.

“According to reports, individual accounts at companies of interest are usually targeted, and then once these accounts are breached, they are used as a springboard to launch spear-phishing attacks against high-profile executives in an organisation.

“The report suggests that not only do these attackers seek out data on subscribers and connected third-party companies, but once compromised, threat actors or their sponsors can also use these industries to survey individuals of interest.”

 

Way Forward

In a bid to guard against such threats, Adinde noted the ngCERT reports that multiple layers of security, in addition to constant network monitoring, were required by telecom companies and ISPs.

He advised telecom consumers and others to ensure the consistent use of firewalls; enable a Web Application Firewall to help detect and prevent attacks coming from web applications by inspecting HTTP traffic; and install Up-to-date antivirus programmes to help detect and prevent a wide range of malware, trojans, and viruses that APT hackers could use to exploit their systems.

They were also asked to implement the use of intrusion prevention systems that monitor network; create a secure sandboxing environment that allows opening and running of untrusted programs or codes without risking harm to operating system, ensure the use of virtual private network (VPN) to prevent an easy opportunity for APT hackers to gain initial access to companies’ network; as well as enable spam and malware protection for email applications and educate employees on how to identify potentially malicious emails.

“For further technical assistance, contact ngCERT on [email protected],” said Adinde. “The NCC, as the operator of the telecom sector’s cyber threat response centre (CSIRT), hereby reiterates its commitment to active surveillance and monitoring of cyber activities in the sector and will always keep stakeholders in Nigeria’s telecommunications sector updated on potential threats within the cyber space.

“This is to ensure that the networks that deliver essential services are safe and that telecom consumers are protected from being victims of cyber-attacks.”

Deployment Of 5G Nationwide Is 97% Ready – NCC

NCC
A file photo of NCC logo

 

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has confirmed it is 97% ready for the implementation of 5G deployment in the country.

In a statement issued on Thursday, NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Professor Umar Danbatta, confirmed the readiness at the annual African Tech Alliance Forum (AFRITECH) 2021, held in Lagos with the theme: “Embracing Changes and Digital Transformation in the New Normal.”

Danbatta stated that this paradigm shift in communication has led to a significant increase in network connectivity requirements as a result of an unprecedented upsurge in internet traffic, occasioned by the use of a plethora of web applications.

He explained that the NCC is working with operators to implement a number of initiatives to ensure network expansion.

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These, he said, include an ongoing plan to auction spectrum in 3.5 gigahertz (Ghz) band to operators for the deployment of 5G network in Nigeria.

“Already, we are set for the auction of some spectrum slots in 3.5GHz band. The other day I was at the National assembly, I informed the senate that we were 95 percent ready for 5G. Today as we speak, I am delighted to tell you that we are already at 97 percent completion,” he said.

“Consistent with our mandate as enshrined in the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 (NCA-2003) and other guiding legislations, we have been working to ensure the penetration of broadband services in line with Federal Government’s targets, as contained in Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP), 2020 to 2025.

“The Committee set up to auction the Spectrum has already developed an Information Memorandum (IM) which is already published for inputs and comments from all industry stakeholders. Prior to this, a 5G deployment plan was developed and we have since secured Federal Government’s approval.”

He stated that the trend has made remote work, virtual meetings, virtual studies, and virtual healthcare delivery, among others, the new normal.

The NCC boss was represented at the event by the Director, Spectrum Administration at the commission, Engineer Oluwatoyin Asaju and the commission’s Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde.

Age Limit On SIM Ownership Still A Proposal, Says NCC

A file photo of NCC logo and some SIM cards.

 

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says reports of the agency limiting the age to get a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) is still a draft proposal. 

In a statement on Wednesday, the NCC Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde described the reports pegging 18 years as the age requirement for getting as SIM card as “misleading and inaccurate.”

“The age of 18 years for SIM acquisition proposed in the draft regulation is contingent on the constitutional provision, which makes 18 years the age of consent in Nigeria,” Adinde  further noted in the press release. 

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He said the move is to protect minors and reiterated the NCC’s drive to deepen digital inclusion in Nigeria. 

“The proposal is, therefore, to protect minors. Parents and guardians can acquire SIMs in their names on behalf of their children and wards in which case they assume whatever responsibilities or liabilities that arise from the usage of such SIMs, a measure expected to also strengthen national security,” says the NCC. 

The NCC added that getting SIM cards is an agreement between telecoms service providers and their customers but maintained that the draft proposal is in line with the provisions of the Nigerian law. 

The proposal, the commission explained, will get inputs from relevant stakeholders before it is approved.

“In accordance with sections 70 and 71 of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003 and the Commission’s consultative engagement process, which define its rule-making process, the public inquiry was held for all relevant stakeholders to provide input on the draft regulatory instrument,” the statement added. 

NCC Shuts Down All Telecom Sites In Zamfara

Failed Data Tariff Increment Decision Was To Protect Consumers – NCC‎

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has directed telecommunications providers to shut down services in Zamfara State.

The shutdown is to last for two weeks.

This was disclosed in a memo signed on Friday by the vice-chairman of the NCC, Professor Umar Danbatta, and addressed to one of the telecoms providers.

According to the memo, the shutdown of the telecoms sites had become necessary due to the lingering insecurity in the state.

“The pervading security situation in Zamfara has necessitated an immediate shutdown of all telecommunications services in the state from today, September 3, 2021. This is to enable relevant security agencies to carry out the required activities towards addressing the security challenge in the state.

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“In line with this requirement, Globacom is hereby directed to shut down all sites in Zamfara State and any sites(s) in neighbouring states that could provide telecommunications services in Zamfara State. The site shut down is for two weeks from September 3 to September 17, 2021, in the first instance. Your urgent action in this regard is required,” the memo read in part.

This decision is coming six months after the Federal Government declared Zamfara State a ‘no-fly zone’ and banned all mining activities in the state.

The state has been a hotbed of criminal attacks ranging from kidnapping and banditry.

Last week, the government shut down schools after the abduction of 73 students from a public school in the state.

The abduction occurred 11 days after students abducted from the College of Agriculture in Bakura, Zamfara, regained freedom.

The state governor Bello Matawalle also suspended the transportation of livestock beyond the state’s borders and ordered the closure of weekly markets across the state, while transportation of food items will be subject to verification.

Nigeria To Roll Out 5G Technology Soon – NCC

NCC

 

The Federal Government is set to begin the roll-out of fifth-generation (5G) services across the country.

Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, made the announcement on Friday at a public inquiry on the instruments necessary for the deployment of the technology.

The instruments are the annual operating levy regulations and the frequency spectrum regulations.

Speaking further, Professor Danbatta explained that the commission has submitted the proposal to the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy and is awaiting approval from the Federal Government to roll out the services.

He added that the commission is also discussing the fees and pricing for the technology.

The NCC and the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) had signed a Memorandum of Understanding in May to facilitate the deployment of 5G technology.

Both agencies signed the agreement on the use of C-Band Spectrum for 5G services in Nigeria at an event in Abuja.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners at the NCC, Professor Adeolu Akande, noted that in recent times, precisely from the last quarter of 2019, several administrations have begun to license spectrum for commercial deployment of 5G.

He stated that 5G services have already been deployed in the United States and South Korea among many more countries in the world.

“Telecommunication evolution from inception to date has led to improvement in user experience witnessed from 2G, 3G and later 4G. The global impact of 4G brought about increases in mobile usage and network performance.

“5G will build on this momentum, bringing substantial network improvements, including higher connection speeds, mobility, and capacity, as well as low-latency capabilities,” Akande said.

According to him, 5G does not only offer enhanced broadband and ultra-reliable latency communications but also provides massive machine-type communications where a lot of devices will seamlessly connect and independently interact with the internet without human intervention.

According to industry estimates discussed during the Better World Summit in Shenzhen, China earlier this month, there would be 2.7 billion subscribers to 5G networks globally by 2025.

Electronic Transmission Of Results: We Can’t Guarantee 100% Safety, NCC Tells Reps

A file photo of lawmakers during plenary at the House of Representatives chamber in Abuja .

 

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said it cannot guarantee total safety for the electronic transmission of results, explaining that no system is completely free from hackers. 

Federal lawmakers had a rowdy session as debates over the inclusion of electronic transmission of results in the Electoral Act Amendment took centre stage in the chambers on Thursday in Abuja.

But the Executive Commissioner of the NCC, Adeleke Adewolu told lawmakers at the House of Representatives on Friday that while concerns over the electronic transmission of results are genuine, no system can guarantee a 100 percent shield from hacking.

The NCC boss also stated that elections results can only be transmitted by a 3G network, noting that 50 percent of the country has 3G coverage.

He, however, explained that for areas without such coverage, poll results can be recorded and thereafter uploaded in places where there is a network. But Adeleke admitted that this cannot be compared with the real-time upload.

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Senate Backs E-Transmission

A file photo of lawmakers at the Senate chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

The House of Representatives had failed to reach an agreement over the controversial clause.

This was after Deputy Speaker Idris Wase ruled against the electronic transmission of results despite a resounding vote in favour of electronic transmission.

Subsequently, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the NCC would be present on Friday to give further clarifications on the Electoral Act with a major focus on section 52(3).

The Senate had on the same day voted for the conditional electronic transmission of election results.

At the end of voting,  28 Senators mostly from the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) voted for the original amendment in the report while 52 Senators backed the amendment as proposed by Senator Sabi Abdullahi.

This means the majority of Senators voted that INEC may consider electronic transmission provided the national network coverage is adjudged to be adequate and secure by NCC and approved by the National Assembly.

 

Nigerians Start Getting Charged N6.98 For USSD Transactions

A file photo of NCC logo and some SIM cards.

 

Many users of USSD services in Nigeria on Friday started to see a notice to pay N6.98 for each transaction session.

USSD is a critical channel for delivering financial services, especially for those who do not have access to physical banking infrastructure or internet services.

“Welcome to USSD Banking,” one notice said. “Please note, a N6.98 network charge will be applied to your account for banking services on this channel.”

The decision to charge users was reached in March by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

The decision was part of an agreement reached with deposit money banks following a disagreement between banks and telecom firms over USSD and other text message transaction requests.

“Effective March 16, 2021, USSD services for financial transactions conducted at DMBs (Deposit Money Banks) and all CBN-licensed institutions will be charged at a flat fee of N6.98 per transaction,” a March statement signed by the CBN and NCC partly read.

The charge is expected to be withdrawn from users’ bank accounts and remitted to mobile network operators, who provide infrastructure for the service to operate.

Many Nigerians took to Twitter early Friday to express their dismay over the charges.

“Things are really getting harder in this country a whole 6.98 approximately 7.00 to use #USSD,” one Twitter user wrote.

“The general public is reminded that the USSD channel is optional, as several alternative channels such as mobile apps, internet banking and ATMs may be used for financial transactions,” the CBN and NCC said in its March joint statement.

“The CBN and NCC shall continue to engage relevant operators and all stakeholders to promote cheaper, seamless access to mobile and financial services for all Nigerians.”

But there are concerns about how the new charge will affect financial inclusion, particularly for people who do not have access to internet services.

“Do they realize that people who mostly use #USSD can’t afford internet enabled devices talk more of data. Now you’re charging 7 Naira,” another Twitter user, @JimolWest, said.

Nigerians Not Required To Submit IMEIs – NCC

NCC
File: NCC

 

Nigerians are not required to submit the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) of their phones from July.

This is according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) which denied media reports suggesting that the masses would have to submit their IMEIs to the Federal Government.

NCC in a statement issued on Friday by its spokesperson, Ikechukwu Adinde, said the commission is in the process of deploying a Device Management System.

“At no time did the commission issue a statement regarding the registration of IMEI by subscribers and it has no plans to do so,” he said.

“The reports in question have emanated from a section of the Revised National Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration recently launched by President Muhammadu Buhari and which has been uploaded on the commission’s website.

“The DMS will essentially protect subscribers against phone theft and will identify and enable the elimination of fake devices from the networks.

 

“The system will capture IMEI automatically without any requirement for subscribers to submit same.”

NCC, NIGCOMSAT Sign Deal To Deploy 5G In Nigeria

This file illustration picture taken on February 17, 2019 shows the 5G wireless technology logo displayed on a tablet in Paris. Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP
This file illustration picture taken on February 17, 2019, shows the 5G wireless technology logo displayed on a tablet in Paris. Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP

 

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate the deployment of 5G technology in the nation’s telecommunication sector.

Both agencies signed the agreement on the use of C-Band Spectrum for 5G services in Nigeria at an event held on Wednesday in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

In his remarks, the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners at the NCC, Professor Adeolu Akande, noted that in recent times, precisely from the last quarter of 2019, several administrations have begun to license spectrum for commercial deployment of 5G.

He stated that 5G services have already been deployed in the United States and South Korea among many more countries in the world.

“Telecommunication evolution from inception to date has led to improvement in user experience witnessed from 2G, 3G and later 4G. The global impact of 4G brought about increases in mobile usage and network performance.

“5G will build on this momentum, bringing substantial network improvements, including higher connection speeds, mobility, and capacity, as well as low-latency capabilities,” said Akande.

According to him, 5G does not only offer enhanced broadband and ultra-reliable latency communications but also provides massive machine-type communications where a lot of devices will seamlessly connect and independently interact with the internet without human intervention.

Akande explained that the role of spectrum was critical in realising the full extent of the new capabilities, adding that the full socio-economic impact of 5G was dependent on access to a variety of spectrum resources.

NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Professor Umar Danbatta, on his part, said Nigeria cannot be left behind when several countries were already expanding their technologies through the 5G network.

He was confident that the synergy with NIGCOMSAT would help in harnessing the contagious quantum of spectrum needed for the early deployment of 5G.

NCC Arrests Five Suspects For Fraudulent Registration, Sales Of SIM Cards

A file photo of NCC logo and some SIM cards.

 

The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), has arrested five suspected persons for allegedly engaging in fraudulent registration and sales of SIM cards.

This is part of the commission’s routine enforcement activities to sanitise the industry of criminal elements.

The operation was carried out by a joint team from the Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Department of the Commission, operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS), and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, in the Wuse area of Abuja.

In a statement by the Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, the arrested suspects were subsequently handed over to the NSCDC Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Command, Wuse, Abuja for further investigation with respect to the allegations leveled against them.

Commenting on the enforcement operation, NCC’s Head of Enforcement, Salisu Abdu, who led the joint enforcement exercise, said the exercise was part of the routine activities embarked upon by the Commission to rid the industry of criminal elements engaging in fraudulent registration of SIM cards.

He said pre-registering a SIM card is an offence punishable under relevant regulations in the telecom sector and constitutes a breach of national security.

“It is criminal and fraudulent to pre-register a SIM card in Nigeria and it is an offence punishable under the law. Though the Federal Government recently lifted the ban on the sale of new SIM cards, it should be noted that proper registration of SIM cards and linking them to National Identity Number (NIN) before activation has now become a prerequisite,” he said.

Abdu warned those who are engaged in the unlawful registration of SIM cards to desist from the illegal act, noting that the Commission will continue to collaborate with relevant law enforcement agencies in its routine enforcement activities in order to rid the industry of individuals, who have resolved to contravene SIM registration regulations.

The enforcement activities will continue in other locations across the FCT and other states of the country.