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FG eyes improved security, directs NCC to review SIM cards registration


In a bid to improve security in the country, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, yesterday directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to review SIM card registration policy and usage.

To achieve the best results, he said the NCC should ensure that the National Identity Number (NIN) becomes a prerequisite for Nigerians to register new SIM cards, while foreigners, should use their passports and visas.

Consequently, all registered SIM cards are to be updated with NIN on or before December 1, 2020.

The directive followed feedbacks received from security agencies after the successful revalidation of improperly registered SIM cards in September 2019 and the blocking of revalidated ones.

In a statement issued by his Technical Assistant (Information Technology), Dr. Femi Adeluyi in Abuja, Pantami said the updated policy was expected to ensure that only fully accredited agents support the SIM card registration process.

He stressed that the process should be carried out without pre-registering SIM cards, while operators should do the eventual registration themselves.

Also, under the new policy, there would be a maximum number of SIM cards that could be tied to individuals and would ensure that no unregistered SIMs are allowed into mobile networks.

Pantami noted that the new policy would ensure that subscribers easily check the number of SIM cards registered in their names, along with the associated phone numbers and networks.

He also pointed out that the policy would ensure that mobile network operators fortify their networks against cyber-attacks, ensure that they adhere to provisions of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR), as well as guarantee that SIM cards used to perpetrate crime are permanently deactivated.

According to him, the directive is in line with the powers of the minister as stipulated in Section 25(1) of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003, adding that the NCC would provide progress reports on the implementation of the revised policy.

Responding to the development, a telecoms expert, Kehinde Aluko, said he expects peddlers of unregistered SIM cards to reduce drastically.

He argued that the proliferation of unregistered SIM cards was frustrating the effort of the military in fighting terrorism and other crimes in the country, and urged the NCC to ensure that service providers comply with the directive.

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