The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has emphasized that telecommunication companies failing to adhere to the directive to block Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards not linked to National Identification Numbers (NIN) will face penalties,Punch reports.

Reuben Mouka, the Director of Public Affairs at NCC, reiterated this stance to The PUNCH on Thursday, stating that telecom operators are mandated to comply with the regulatory directive, and any deviation will result in sanctions.

Mouka emphasized, “The telcos must adhere to the directive to link SIM cards to NIN. We have issued clear directives, and we expect full compliance. Any evidence of non-compliance will lead to sanctions.”

Regarding the commencement of sanctions, Mouka clarified that it involves a regulatory process and cannot be specified but affirmed that any operator failing to comply will face penalties.

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In December, the telecom regulator instructed telcos to deactivate approximately 12 million lines not linked to owners’ NINs after the February 28, 2024, deadline. The NCC reaffirmed its position on the matter on Wednesday, ruling out an extension of the deadline.

Telecom operators, including Gbenga Adebayo, the Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, expressed alignment with the regulator’s directive to disconnect SIMs not linked to NIN.

Adebayo affirmed, “About 12 million SIM cards may remain unlinked to NINs. Per regulatory directives, services for numbers not properly linked will be withdrawn by midnight today. We stand by this directive and will comply.”

The mandatory linkage initiative began in December 2020 to enhance national security measures by streamlining identification processes and improving accountability for phone line ownership. This measure aims to combat crime, such as kidnapping, banditry, and terrorism, by holding individuals accountable for activities associated with their registered lines.

The Executive Vice Chairman, Aminu Maida, highlighted the ongoing issue of pre-registered or illegally registered SIM cards and emphasized that the directive would facilitate data-driven decision-making to benefit the industry and consumers alike. He stressed the NCC’s commitment to ensuring licensee accountability and protecting consumer interests while fostering compliance with regulations.


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