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Subscribers get reprieve as FG extends NIN-SIM linkage by one month

By Adeyemi Adepetun, Lagos and Msugh Ityokura, Abuja
03 April 2021   |   4:09 am
Reprieve may have come the way of Nigerians, especially subscribers, who are yet to link their National Identity Number (NIN) to Subscribers Identification Module (SIM) cards, ..

Isa Pantami

Contempt Proceeding Looms Over New Deadline Date

Reprieve may have come the way of Nigerians, especially subscribers, who are yet to link their National Identity Number (NIN) to Subscribers Identification Module (SIM) cards, as the Federal Government yesterday extended the deadline for the registration, verification and linkage by additional one month.

The deadline was actually pegged for April 6 before the new announcement. The implication of this is that Nigerians who are yet to complete the NIN-SIM registration now have up till May 6 to do, failure of which their SIM cards could be blocked.

This is even as the already registered and verified NINs have exceeded 51 million. The new deadline date was announced in a joint statement signed by both the Director of Public Affairs at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, and Head of Corporate Communications, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Kayode Adegoke.

The statement disclosed that based on the updates of the NIN-registration process, over 51 million people have been assigned NINs, while many have enrolled and in the process of being assigned NINs.

Both Commissions explained that with each individual having an average of three to four SIMs, the total number of SIMs tied to NINs would be close to the total number of registered SIMs in the country.

According to them, the current number of monthly enrollments has increased significantly to about 2.6 million registrations, claiming that there have also been remarkable increase in the numbers of enrolment centres across the country, with about 3,800 centres available for enrollments.

The statement said there are also many more new centres in the pipeline, adding: “The Chairman of the EFCC addressed the meeting and stated that the NIN-SIM linkage would support the Federal Government in checkmating the activities of fraudsters and cybercriminals.

“The minister noted the importance of obtaining feedback from all stakeholders to ensure that the NIN-SIM linkage process is one that cannot easily be compromised.”

This extension of the deadline was arrived at after a meeting yesterday, which had the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, and other industry stakeholders in attendance.

Pantami thanked Nigerians for their patience and compliance with the Federal Government’s directive on the NIN-SIM registration exercise, reiterating government’s commitment to continually take decisions aimed at easing their pains, with regard to issues related to NIN and SIM registration.

The minister explained that the request for the extension was presented to President Muhammadu Buhari and he endorsed it.
Meanwhile, industry watchers are worried that the new deadline might lead to contempt of court proceedings, recalling that the government’s statement only extended the period by one month without recourse to the court ruling, which extended it by two months on Wednesday.

According to them, the former vice president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Monday Onyekachi Ubani, had approached the Federal High Court in Lagos on the matter and secured a ruling that extended the deadline by two months.

In a telephone interview, yesterday, Ubani vowed to initiate a contempt proceeding against the parties that voided the pronouncement of a court of competent jurisdiction on the matter.

A telecoms expert, Kehinde Aluko, said he expects some legal works to commenced anytime from now, especially by those who consider the process as an infringement on their fundamental human rights.

President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS), Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, had earlier in the week, said the court-ordered extension must be adequately obeyed, adding that with the extension, “we should be looking at June 6. Before now, NATCOMS had advocated for June 30 extension.

“The belief is that this will enable more Nigerians, especially those in the rural areas, to be fully captured and subsequently able to link their SIMs. We hope that FG will obey.”