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Dr Isa Ali Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy said henceforth, the National Identity Number (NIN) would be the main requirement for Nigerians to register their new SIM cards while foreigners would make use of their passports and visas.
Also to avoid double registration, he said the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) which is the regulatory body should ensure that SIM subscribers can easily check the number of SIM cards registered to their name, along with the associated phone numbers and networks.
The ICIR had earlier reported on the trend of double registration and the vulnerability of Nigerian phone users to become an accomplice of an unknown criminal act.
An additional report also revealed how a telecom operator illegally charged victim for SIM registration contravening legal provisions of the NCC.
It could also be recalled that last year December, Adeleke Adewolu, NCC Executive Commissioner on Stakeholder Management (ECSM) attributed illegal SIM swaps as being responsible for the highest cyber threats recorded in the nation’s telecom sector.
On 7th January, Omoyele Sowore also came on his social media handle to announce how Anthony Okolia, was illegally detained by the Department of State Security (DSS) for using an abandoned SIM card formerly belonging to Hanan Buhari, daughter of the President.
However, the Minister emphasised that “only fully accredited agents should support the SIM card registration process without pre-registering SIM cards themselves, while the eventual registration should be done by the operators.”
He directed the NCC to take responsibility for the review of the policy on SIM Card registration and usage.
“This is in line with the Powers of the Minister as stated in Section 25(1) of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003- “the Minister shall, in writing, from time to time notify the Commission or and express his views on the general policy direction of the Federal Government in respect of the communications sector,” he stated quoting the legal provision that empowers him to embark on the review.
In a statement issued by Dr Femi Adeluyi, his Technical Assistant (Information Technology), the revision of the policy is also based on the feedback received from the security agencies following the successful revalidation of improperly registered SIM cards in September 2019 and the blocking of those that failed to revalidate their SIMs.
The updated Policy is expected to include the following provisions, amongst others:
(i) Ensure that the National Identity Number (NIN) becomes a prerequisite for Nigerians registering new SIM cards (while for foreigners, their passports and visas should be used), while already registered SIM cards are to be updated with National Identity Number (NIN) before 1st December, 2020;
(ii) Ensure that only fully accredited agents support the SIM card registration process without pre-registering SIM cards themselves, while the eventual registration should be done by the operators;
(iii) There should be a maximum number of SIM cards that can be tied to a single individual, possibly a maximum of 3;
(iv) Ensure that no unregistered SIMs are ever allowed on mobile networks;
(v) Ensure that subscribers can easily check the number of SIM cards registered to their name, along with the associated phone numbers and networks;
(vi) Ensure that mobile network operators fortify their networks against cyber-attacks and ensure that they adhere to the provisions of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR); and
(vii) Ensure that SIM cards that have been used to perpetrate crimes are permanently deactivated.
The Minister further charged the NCC to provide him with progress reports on the implementation of the revised Policy.