Reps Ask NCC To Extend Deadline On Blocking SIM Cards Without NIN

Members of the House of Representatives.

 

 

The House of Representatives has asked the National Communications Commission (NCC) to extend the 31st December deadline issued to sim card owners to submit their National Identification Numbers (NIN) to their network providers to prevent blocking.

The motion was moved on Wednesday during plenary by the House Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu.

According to the lawmaker, two weeks is too short for 200million Nigerians to conclude the process.

The House lauds the intention of the NCC, for security reasons but wants the process to be extended to 10 weeks, considering the difficulty experienced by Nigerians in attaining the NIN.

A file photo of NCC logo and some SIM cards.

The Federal Government on Tuesday issued an ultimatum to all telecommunications operators in the country to block all Subscriber Identification Modules (SIMs) without National Identification Number (NIN).

It also ordered the network operators to ask all their subscribers to provide valid NIN to update their records and suspend SIM registration.

READ ALSO: Block SIMs Without NIN After Two Weeks, FG Tells Telcos

These formed parts of the resolutions adopted for immediate implementation by all network operators at an urgent meeting of key stakeholders in the communications industry held in Abuja.

The spokesman for the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, noted in a statement that the meeting was convened on Monday by the Minister, Dr. Isa Pantami.

According to him, the meeting resolved that the submission of NIN by subscribers would take place between December 16 and 30, 2020.

The government stated that after the deadline, all SIMs without NINs should be blocked from the networks while a Ministerial Task Force comprising the minister and all the CEOs, among others, as members would monitor compliance by all networks.

It warned that violations of the directives by any network operator would be met with stiff sanctions, including the possibility of withdrawal of operating licences.

Adinde explained that the meeting followed the earlier directive on the suspension of new SIM registration by network operators.

The need to consolidate the achievements of last year’s SIM registration audit and improve the performance and sanity of the sector was exhaustively discussed and all stakeholders agreed that urgent drastic measures had become inevitable to improve the integrity and transparency of the SIM registration process.

NCC Deactivates Over Two Million Improperly Registered Sim Cards

 

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has deactivated over two million improperly registered sim cards across mobile network operators in the country.

The Executive Vice Chairman of the commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, disclosed this in Abuja at the weekend, saying the development is in line with the key agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari to improve the security of lives and property for all Nigerians.

“By our records, all improperly registered Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards across Mobile Network Operators (MNO’s) in Nigeria have been completely deactivated,” Professor Danbatta said.

According to him, over the years, the NCC has tenaciously worked with determination and through various policy initiatives, to rid mobile networks of improperly or invalidly-registered sim cards to ensure that all the current over 184 million registered sim cards/mobile lines have valid data that are traceable and not anonymous.

“Our efforts received a boost, following the implementation of a September 12, 2019 ministerial directive that the NCC should compel service providers to block all improperly-registered sim cards, pending when their owners regularise their registration,” he said.

“As at the time the ministerial order was issued, the commission, through its compliance monitoring and enforcement team, had reduced the number of improperly registered sim cards on mobile networks in the country to 9.2 million.

“As part of the commission’s ongoing regulatory interventions such as the setting up of the sim registration industry task force, which led to several resolutions including the Industry Working Group (IWG) on harmonisation of sim registration process with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to ensure a clean sim database, the commission had, in June 2019, commenced the second round of comprehensive verification audit of MNO’s sim card registrations.”

According to Danbatta, this audit exercise was concluded in August 2019.

The audit was specifically to ensure strict adherence by telecom operators to the provisions of the telephone subscribers registration regulations 2011.

Following the September 2019 ministerial directive, however, the NCC, within a week, intensified efforts by reducing the number of improperly registered sim cards from 9.2 million to 2.2 million.

“We have since initiated the second phase of sim deactivation based on the ministerial directive and as at today, we have completely deactivated the remaining 2.2 million lines on the networks. This is contrary to reports by a section of the media, suggesting that nothing has been done with respect to the issue of improperly-registered sim cards,” he said.

The NCC boss assured all stakeholders that the commission will continue to aggressively pursue the national objectives of delivering an accurate database of telephone subscribers in Nigeria, stating that the sim data submitted to the commission is constantly being validated for higher efficiency to support the national security objectives of the sim registration exercise through NCC’s zero tolerance for deviations from the proper registration process.

“I also use this opportunity to restate the commission’s commitment to the periodic sim data audit, continuous compliance monitoring exercise on the MNO’s, as well as constant consumer education and engagement against using improperly-registered sim cards. With this, we would be able to, collectively, address national security concerns, especially kidnappings, banditry, armed robberies, cattle rustling and other crimes associated with sim cards across the nation and to ensure that all sim cards are traceable to their real owners,” he added.

FG Gives NCC Deadline To Deactivate 2.24 Million SIM Cards

The Federal Government has issued an ultimatum to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to deactivate all improperly registered Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards by September 25.

Minister of Communications, Ibrahim Isa Pantami, gave the deadline on Tuesday when he met with the management of the telecom regulator in Abuja.

“We want to make sure that by 25th of September 2019, we don’t have a single incomplete registration of SIM in Nigeria,” Pantami said.

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The Minister revealed that 2.42 million SIM cards are yet to properly registered and want the commission to ensure that the telecommunication companies rectify them within one week.

He, however, commended them for rectifying about 6.8million SIM cards out of 9.2 million that was reported when he assumed office as Minister, less than a month ago.

Improper registration of the SIM cards, according to the Minister, have security implications on the country.

MTN Fine: NCC Says It Acted In Public Interest

MTNThe Nigerian Communications Commission has defended the fine of 1.04 trillion slammed on MTN Nigeria explaining it was done in the interest of the public.

This is the first time the NCC has commented on this issue since slapping the telecoms firm with the fine following overwhelming evidence of non-compliance and disregard to the rules of engagement by MTN.

MTN, in a letter of November 2, 2015 admitted the infraction and pleaded for leniency. The commission has acknowledged this and is looking into their plea without any prejudice to the fine. The fine remains but the appeal and other engagements with MTN may affect the payment deadline.

In a statement by its Director, Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, the commission added that it has adopted smart regulation in its oversight function in the industry, insisting sanctions are the last resort after all overtures fail but that this does not in any way undermine industry standards and the interest of investors.

NCC Statement

Following the sanctions placed on MTN Nigeria, by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), members of the public have expressed diverse interest as to what actually transpired.

The fine was a result of violation of Section 20(1) of the Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulation of 2011.

Section 20 (1) of Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations 2011 states that:

“Any licensee who activates or fails to deactivate a subscription medium in violation of any provision of these Regulations is liable to a penalty of N200,000.00 for each unregistered but activated subscription medium.”

The fine of N1.04Trillion on MTN Nigeria by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) was done in the interest of the public which has been at the receiving end of security challenges.

Consequent upon the overwhelming evidence of non-compliance, and obvious disregard to the rule of engagement by MTN, the NCC had no choice but to impose the sanctions.

MTN, in a letter of November 2, 2015 admitted the infraction and pleaded for leniency.  The Commission has acknowledged this and is looking into their plea without any prejudice to the fine. The fine remains but the appeal and other engagements with MTN may affect the payment deadline.

The fine that was imposed on MTN was the second within two months after the operators were given a seven-day ultimatum to deactivate all unregistered and improperly registered Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) Cards. While others complied, MTN did not.

On August 4, 2015, at a meeting of all the representatives of the Mobile Network Operators (MNO), with NCC, major security challenges through preregistered, unregistered and improperly registered SIM Cards topped the agenda after which Operators were given the ultimatum to deactivate such within seven days.

On August 14, 2015, three days after the ultimatum expired, NCC carried out a network audit, while other Operators complied with the directive, to deactivate the improperly registered SIM Cards, MTN showed no sign of compliance at all.

Please recall that four (4) Operators; MTN, Airtel, Globacom and Etisalat, were sanctioned in August for none compliance of the directive to deactivate the improperly registered SIM Cards.  MTN got a fine of N102.2Million, Globacom N7.4Million, Etisalat N7Million and Airtel N3.8Million fine.  Others complied while MTN flouted the fine.

Based on the report of the compliance Audit Team, an Enforcement Team which visited MTN from September 2 – 4, 2015 wherein MTN admitted that the Team confirmed that 5.2million improperly registered SIM Cards were still left active on their network; hence, a contravention of the Regulations was established.

Consistent with the Commission’s enforcement process, MTN was by a letter dated October 5, 2015, given notice to state why it should not be sanctioned in line with the Regulations for failure to deactivate improperly registered SIM Cards that were found to be active at the time of enforcement team’s visit of September 15, 2015.

On October 19, 2015, the Commission received and reviewed MTN’s response and found no convincing evidence why it should not be sanctioned for the established violations.

Accordingly, by a letter dated October 20, 2015 the Commission conveyed appropriate sanctions to MTN in accordance with Regulations 20(1) of the Telephone Subscribers Registration Regulation 2011, to pay the Sum of N200,000.00 only for each of the 5.2million improperly registered SIM Cards.

The statement further averred that:

In order to ensure proper identification of telephone subscribers with their biometric data and in line with international best practice, the Commission came up with a framework for the registration of telephone subscribers in Nigeria.  (Nigerian Communications Commission Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations 2011).

The above Regulations were developed with the full participation of all key industry Stakeholders including all Mobile Network Operators (MNO) in 2011.

The Commission on its part has a statutory responsibility to monitor and enforce compliance to the rules. More so, when national security is at stake.

The statement explained that, National interest is paramount because when lives are lost they cannot be replaced.

As a responsible Regulator, the NCC will not stand by and watch Rules and Regulations for Engagement being flouted by any Operator.

The Commission has adopted a smart regulation in its oversight function in the industry, hence it has always weighed the implications of sanctions that is why it had to place the appropriate sanction accordingly.

The NCC statement further said that sanctions are the last resort after all overtures fail but this does not in any way undermine Industry Standards and the interest of Investors.

Tony Ojobo
Director, Public Affairs
NCC