Wednesday , September 28 2022
Minister Orders Telcos to Disconnect 75 Million Unlinked Phone Lines

Minister Orders Telcos to Disconnect 75 Million Unlinked Phone Lines

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari through the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami has ordered the nation’s wireless companies to bar outgoing calls from phone numbers not linked to the national identity number in a bid to control extortions and abductions.

The rule will come into effect Monday, the Nigerian Communications Commission said in an e-mailed statement. President Muhammadu Buhari in December 2020 ordered all phone lines to be linked to an identity number to curb rising incidents of abductions in the country’s northern region.

Kidnappers usually call relatives of their victims with unregistered SIM cards, which authorities in Africa’s most populated nation are unable to trace.

The latest rule will mean about 75 million phone lines that aren’t linked to the national identity number won’t be able to make calls.

Out of the nation’s 198 million phone connections, 125 million SIM cards had been verified and linked to 78 million unique national identity numbers, according to the commission’s statement.

Click to Read: ALTON Pledges to Comply with FG Directive on SIM-NIN Linkage

MTN Group’s Nigerian unit is the largest operator with 75 million subscribers, giving it a market share of about 38%. Other major operators include billionaire Sunil Mittal-backed Airtel Africa and Globacom.

According to stakeholders, the situation has become dicey, as there have been accusations and counter-accusations among telecoms operators and security operatives as regards the usage of subscribers’ data in rescue mission.

The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, had in February, disclosed that since the time government started sanitising its database, “no single person or official that has the legal power to ask for bio data of any information with regards to NIN-SIM for rescue mission has beckoned on the ministry to provide such information. It has never happened.”

A statement signed by the Director of Public Affairs, NCC, Dr. Ike Adinde and Head, Corporate Communications, NIMC, Kayode Adegoke, noted that Pantami commended Nigerians and legal residents for their support during the NIN-SIM exercise, which lasted for one year and four months, before ordering that outbound calls on all unlinked SIMs should be blocked with effect from April 4 (yesterday).

Pantami emphasised that enrolment for NIN is a continuous exercise and NIN is a precondition for service in telcos, banks, Nigerian Immigration Service, and several other government services. He encouraged Nigerians and legal residents to visit NIN registration centers for the enrollment and issuance of valid NINs.

About Bukola Olanrewaju

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