Federal government has directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to immediately revise the Policy on SIM Card registration and usage.
Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, minister of Communications and Digital Economy, gave the directive through a statement signed by Dr. Femi Adeluyi, his Technical Assistant, Information Technology.
He said that the directive was in line with the Powers of the Minister as stated in Section 25(1) of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 – which stipulates that: “the Minister shall, in writing, from time to time notify the Commission or and express his views on the general policy direction of the Federal Government in respect of the communications sector.”
According to the statement, ‘’the revision of the Policy is based on the feedback received from the security agencies following the successful revalidation of improperly registered SIM cards in September 2019 and the blocking of those that failed to revalidate their SIMs.’’
With this directive, the updated Policy from NCC is expected to include the following provisions, amongst others: ensure that the National Identity Number (NIN) becomes a prerequisite for Nigerians registering new SIM cards (while for foreigners, their passports and visas should be used), while already registered SIM cards are to be updated with National Identity Number (NIN) before 1st December, 2020; ensure that only fully accredited agents support the SIM card registration process without pre-registering SIM cards themselves, while the eventual registration should be done by the operators; there should be a maximum number of SIM cards that can be tied to a single individual, possibly a maximum of 3; ensure that no unregistered SIMs are ever allowed on mobile networks; ensure that subscribers can easily check the number of SIM cards registered to their name, along with the associated phone numbers and networks.
Also, the industry regulator is to ensure that mobile network operators fortify their networks against cyber attacks and ensure that they adhere to the provisions of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR); and ensure that SIM cards that have been used to perpetrate crimes are permanently deactivated.
In the light of this development, the statement informed that NCC is to provide the Minister with progress reports on the implementation of the revised Policy.