SIM-NIN linkage: NCC rules out extension, telcos bar 12 million lines



The Nigerian Communications Commission has ruled out an extension of the February 28, 2024 deadline for the linkage of Subscriber Identity Module cards to National Identification Numbers.

As a result, telecommunication companies have been directed to bar 12 million lines which have not been linked to the owners’ NINs after the expiration of the deadline.

The Director of Public Affairs, NCC, Reuben Mouka, confirmed the development

Reaffirming the NCC’s stance, Mouka stated, “We already issued a public notice in this regard and all the information. If there was an extension, NCC would have communicated that. But as far as I know, there is no extension.”

In a December 2023 notice, the NCC had asked telcos to bar SIMs that had not been linked to their owners’ NINs by February 28, 2024.

It further asked the Global Satellite Mobile Communications firms to bar those whose NINs have been submitted but not verified by March 29, 2024; and interdict those who have less than five lines linked to an unverified NIN by April 15, 2024.

The Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, Gbenga Adebayo, confirmed to The PUNCH that telecom operators would comply with the NCC’s directive.

He said out of the 224 million active lines, about 12m lines risked deactivation.

Adebayo said, “About 12 million SIM cards may not have been linked to NIN. Some of these SIM cards work on modems and mifi devices. According to the regulatory directives, those numbers that are not properly linked to NIN will have services withdrawn  to them by midnight today. We stand by that regulatory directive and we are going to comply,”

The ALTON chairman also dismissed speculations about a possible extension, stating that the deadline ought to have happened last year.

He declared, “No, the regulator has made it clear that there won’t be any further extension. Let us remember that this ought to have happened last year, but it was extended by the regulator till the 28th of February, 2024.”

Since the NCC first ordered the suspension of SIM cards without NIN on December 15, 2020, there had  been a rapid increase in the number of people obtaining their NINs.

Between the period the order was given and the second deadline date, January 19, 2021, Nigerian mobile operators received 47.8m new submissions from active subscribers.

In 2021, about 21 million subscribers were yet to obtain their NIN, even as the deadline for registration approached

A high-ranking official at MTN Nigeria, who was not authorised to comment publicly on the matter, informed The PUNCH that the company planned to disconnect the defaulting subscribers in compliance with the directive.

According to the official, there has not been any counter-directives from the NCC.

Emphasising that it is a federal issue, the official pointed out that some lines had been disconnected earlier.

“Remember, this is not an issue with the telcos. It’s a Federal Government issue, and before now, some lines were being disconnected. If they wanted to extend the deadline, they would have issued another notice, but they aren’t as I speak to you,” the official stated.

In response to the situation, a Public Relations official at Airtel Nigeria, Sam Adeoye, mentioned that Airtel would release an official statement on the development.

However, Chineze Amanfo, Lead, Public Relations at 9Mobile, did not respond to calls when contacted by our correspondent.

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