The Federal Government of Nigeria has recently directed the Nigerian Telecommunications Regulator to collect the phone International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) of citizens within three months.
This directive was contained in the Revised National Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration. The directive, according to Buhari, must be fully implemented within three months.
Recall, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami has mandated every telecom subscriber in the country to link their National Identification Numbers (NINs) to their SIM cards. It is to be noted the move has generated much controversy and as such reactions.
The IMEI number is the mobile phone’s fingerprint. It is a 15-digit number unique to each phone. With the IMEI number, a phone can be tracked and located irrespective of the cellular number in it.
With this move, the NCC will have the IMEI numbers, NIN, and mobile numbers of every Nigerian.
According to the government, this move is aimed at curtailing the counterfeit mobile phone market, discourage mobile phone theft, enhance National Security, protect consumer interest, increase revenue generation for the government, reduce the rate of kidnapping, mitigate the use of stolen phones for crime, and facilitate blocking or tracing of stolen mobile phones and other smart devices.
FG further noted that one of the means to achieve this is through the deployment of a Device Management System (DMS).
What is Device Management System (DMS)
The policy stated that the implementation of a Centralized Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) otherwise known as Device Management System (DMS) will serve as a repository for keeping records of all registered mobile phones’ International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) and owners of such devices.
IMEIs that have been reported as either stolen or illegal will be shared through the DMS to all the operators and service providers.
DMS will also provide access to all operators to cross-check the IMEIs and their status before allowing a device to become active on their network.
Why is the Policy Important and How it works
The Revised National Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration contains how the government intends to achieve security from the digital space.
According to the government, the objective is to develop a telecommunications sector where digital identity unlocks access to mobile-enabled services and provides security for all.
Following the directive on submission of phones IMEI by telecoms users in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) would be responsible for the implementation and management of the DMS to achieve the
The purpose is to ensure that such devices reported stolen or illegal do not work even if different SIM Cards are inserted in those devices.
Furthermore, registered mobile phone technicians will also be provided with an interface to check IMEIs and ensure it has not been reported as stolen or illegal before they render their technical services.
The objectives of the government, according to the policy include, to register and capture the IMEIs of all mobile phones and other smart devices on the DMS which, will serve as a repository for sharing data of stolen devices across all networks
Also, it is to ensure all un-registered devices do not work in any of the Networks in Nigeria.
The policy, according to FG will ensure every reported IMEIs for stolen and illegal mobile phones and other smart devices are blacklisted and shared with all operators across all networks.
Furthermore, it is to mitigate Mobile Phone theft and protect Nigerians from been attacked to snatch their mobile phones and other smart devices.
Others include to blacklist and render all stolen Mobile Phones and other Smart Devices valueless in the Nigerian Mobile Phones Market.
FG also stated that it will ease the use of mobile phones and other smart devices in all public places without fear of been attacked by mobile phone snatchers.
The policy will help facilitate the use of digital technology solutions to address key issues bothering Nigerians in the telecommunication sector and to facilitate the implementation of the Device Management System in Nigeria in accordance with best global practice.