The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has identified the proliferation of duplicated National Identification Numbers (NINs) as the root cause of the recent surge in complaints from subscribers facing SIM card bars despite having linked them to their NINs. Third-party agents, engaging in the unauthorized duplication of NINs for telecom subscribers, are reportedly responsible for this challenge, as disclosed by the NCC during a recent media briefing held in Lagos.
Mr. Efosa Idehen, the Director of Compliance at the NCC, shed light on the issue, stating, “On the issue of already registered SIMs and NIN, the issue is that some of those SIMs were registered with duplicated NINs. When an audit of the system is carried out, actual owners of the NINs reclaim them.”
He further highlighted the concerning activities within the industry, particularly related to SIM-NIN linkage for monetary gains. The agents involved in these registrations are causing significant disruptions, and the NCC is keen on addressing and rectifying these issues to establish certainty in SIM ownership.
This revelation follows a series of complaints from subscribers who experienced their lines being barred by telecom operators despite completing the NIN-SIM card linkage process.
Mr. Aminu Maida, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, emphasized the NCC’s commitment to ensuring the direct traceability of SIMs to their rightful owners. Addressing concerns about the integrity of mobile numbers, Maida explained, “We want to protect the integrity of our mobile numbers. When we don’t use it for a while, it has to be recycled and this exposes people to fraud.”
To combat fraudulent activities, the NCC is planning to roll out consequences to deter such behaviors. Maida stated, “We want to create more awareness about this so that people can understand that there is a window during which if they do not use their line, it can be allocated to another person. People are using mobile numbers for a lot of frauds today, and this is because there is no consequence. We are coming up with a regulation that will make sure there is a consequence for using your mobile for fraud.”
However, a telecom expert highlighted the current lack of obligation for telcos to inform subscribers when they recycle unused lines, emphasizing the need for more stringent regulations and awareness campaigns to address these issues effectively. The expert noted that the law allows telcos to recycle SIM cards, with the regulation stating that if a line is dormant without commercial activities for six months, telcos can reissue the line without notifying the customer.