President Muhammadu Buhari says telcos should bar numbers that are yet to comply with the mandatory phone subscriber identification starting today.
Following the presidential directive announced this morning by Professor Isa Pantami, Communications and Digital Economy Minister, subscribers that are yet to tie their National Identification Number (NIN) to their Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) will be placed on “receive-only,” the telecoms lingo for barring the affected number from making calls.
“As of date,” Pantami says, ‘over 125 Million SIMs have had their NINs submitted for immediate linkage, verification, and authentication. Similarly, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has issued over 78 Million unique NINs till date.”
As of February, Nigeria’s active phone lines were 198,123,431, according to the official market information by the telecoms regulator reviewed by Technology Times, an indicator that over 73 million lines may be affected across the telecoms industry.
“It would be recalled,” Pantami says, “that President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, gave the directive for the implementation and commencement of the exercise in December 2020, as part of the administration’s security and social policies.
“The deadlines for the NIN-SIM linkage have been extended on multiple occasions to allow Nigerians to freely comply with the policy.” The FG also took into consideration the passionate appeals by several bodies-Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Civil Societies, Professional Bodies, and a host of others-for the extension of the deadlines in the past.”
The Minister says that “President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the implementation of the Policy with effect from the 4th of April, 2022. Consequently, the Federal Government has directed all telcos to strictly enforce the Policy on all SIMs issued (existing and new) in Nigeria.”
Under the plan, Pantami says, “outgoing calls will subsequently be barred for telephone lines that have not complied with the NIN-SIM linkage Policy from the 4th of April, 2022. Subscribers of such lines are hereby advised to link their SIMs to their NINs before the telcos can lift the restriction on their lines.”
For the restriction to be lifted, the Minister says that “affected individuals are hereby advised to register for their NINs at designated centres and thereafter link the NINs to their SIMs through the channels provided by NIMC and the telcos, including the NIMC mobile App.”
The Minister says that NIN enrolment is a continuous exercise and “is a precondition for service in telcos, banks, Nigerian Immigration Service, and for several other government services” while urging “Nigerians and legal residents to visit NIN registration centres for the enrollment and issuance of valid NINs.”