THE Federal Government has directed telecommunications operators, including MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9mobile, to immediately bar outgoing calls from Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards not yet linked with the National Identification Number (NIN).
The directive, which was announced by Minister of Communication and Digital Economy Isa Pantami, is to come into effect from today, April 4.
The government’s directive was announced in a statement jointly signed by the Director of Public Affairs at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Ikechukwu Adinde, and the Head of Corporate Communications at the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Kayode Adegoke.
The Federal Government had earlier mandated telecommunications subscribers to link their SIMs with their NINs in December 2020.
So far, over 125 million SIM cards, according to the statement, have had their NINs submitted for linkage, verification and authentication.
The statement also disclosed that NIMC has issued over 78 million unique NINs till date.
According to the statement, the Federal Government had extended the NIN-SIM linkage multiple times to allow Nigerians freely comply with the policy.
“At this point, however, Government has determined that the NIN-SIM Policy implementation can proceed, as machinery has already been put in place to ensure compliance by citizens and legal residents.
“The implementation impacts on Government’s strategic planning, particularly in the areas of security and socio-economic projections.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the implementation of the policy with effect from the 4th of April 2022.
“Consequently, the Federal Government has directed all telcos to strictly enforce the policy on all SIMs issued (existing and new) in Nigeria.
“Outgoing calls will subsequently be barred for telephone lines that have not complied with the NIN-SIM linkage policy from the 4th of April 2022.
“Subscribers of such lines are hereby advised to link their SIMs to their NINs before the telcos can lift the restriction on their lines,” the statement said.
The statement noted that NIN enrolment is a continuous exercise as the identity number is a precondition for services in several government agencies and private institutions.
According to the NCC, at least 72.8 million subscribers risk disconnection from telecommunication services following the latest directive.
Data from the NCC also indicates that Nigeria has 197.8 million active telecommunications subscribers as of February 2022.