Nigeria: NCC Maintains SIM-NIN Deadline, Telcos to Bar Unlinked Lines by Friday

NCC Maintains SIM-NIN Deadline, Telcos to Bar Unlinked Lines by Friday
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Telecommunication companies are set to disconnect more Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) numbers not linked to National Identification Numbers (NIN) by Friday, March 29, 2024, as confirmed by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC).

Reuben Mouka, the Director of Publicity at the NCC, reaffirmed that there would be no extension to the deadline for the upcoming phase of disconnection.

The NCC’s directive for disconnection is progressing in phases, with the second phase scheduled for March 29, 2024, as previously announced. The initial phase took place on February 28, 2024, with the third phase slated to commence on April 15, 2024.

Mouka emphasized, “We issued a publication outlining specific deadlines and stipulated that subscribers failing to comply with the directive would be barred, and that remains unchanged.”

During the previous deadline on February 28, 2024, approximately 40 million lines not linked to NIN were disconnected, as revealed by Mouka.

MTN Nigeria reported over 4.2 million lines disconnected from its network following the February 28 deadline.

The NCC reiterates its commitment to enforcing regulatory measures aimed at enhancing security and regulatory compliance within the telecommunications sector.

The SIM-NIN linkage initiative is a crucial step towards improving the integrity of subscriber data and enhancing security measures within the telecommunications industry.

Introduced by the Nigerian government in December 2020, the NIN-SIM linkage policy requires all telephone line users in Nigeria to associate their SIM cards with their NIN.

In December of the preceding year, the NCC issued a directive mandating all telecommunications operators in Nigeria, including major providers like MTN, Airtel, and Globacom, to enforce complete network barring on all phone lines for which subscribers have not provided their NINs by February 28, 2024.

Recently, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) issued a warning to take legal action against the NCC if it did not revoke the directive instructing network providers to block the phone lines of individuals who have not linked their SIM cards to their NINs.

In an open letter addressed to the Chief Executive Officer of the NCC, Aminu Maida, SERAP emphasized the necessity for further consultation and the establishment of an efficient process to enable Nigerians who have yet to link their SIM cards to their NINs to do so.

Dated March 9, 2024, and signed by the Deputy Director of SERAP, Kolawole Oluwadare, the letter condemned the directive to network providers, asserting that it constitutes a severe infringement on citizens’ rights to freedom of expression, information, and privacy.

Last week, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and the NCC issued a joint statement unveiling a strategic partnership aimed at simplifying the NIN-SIM linkage procedures for telecommunications subscribers nationwide.

Both agencies reaffirmed their dedication to enhancing the processes involved and improving efficiency regarding the NIN and SIM card linkage initiative, acknowledging its importance in bolstering security measures and enhancing service delivery across the country.

Last December, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced its intention to freeze accounts lacking a Bank Verification Number (BVN) or NIN, starting April 2024. It mandated that all BVNs or NINs linked to accounts or wallets be electronically revalidated by January 31, 2024.

Following this directive, deposit money banks have been actively urging customers to update their NIN and BVN details through various communication platforms.

In the circular issued by the CBN, banks were instructed to impose a “Post No Debit” restriction on accounts without BVN or NIN, effectively preventing customers from making withdrawals, transfers, or any other debits from such accounts.

Furthermore, all funded accounts or wallets were mandated to be placed on “Post No Debit or Credit” effective March 1, 2024, with no further transactions permitted until compliance with the new process.

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