July 21, 2024

Telecom Operators Block 40 Million Lines as SIM-NIN Linkage Deadline Passes



By: Emmanuel Ibitoye


Over the weekend, telecommunication operators took action by blocking well over 40 million telephone lines, surpassing the initial projection of 12 million, as the February 28, 2024, deadline set by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for linking Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMs) to National Identity Numbers (NINs) elapsed.


The sharp increase in the number of barred lines was revealed by the Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo. This surge highlights the urgency for individuals to register their NINs, reinforcing the importance of compliance with the NCC directive.


In an exclusive interview, Adebayo emphasized that the substantial rise in barred lines is a consequence of individuals who have failed to present their NINs or participate in the harmonization program, illustrating a concerning lack of registration among a significant portion of the population.


As the NCC deadline passed, Adebayo hinted at a subsequent round of disconnections expected by the end of March and mid-April. He outlined that individuals with NINs but possessing more than five unverified Mobile Subscription Identification Numbers (MSINs) associated with their NINs would face disconnection starting March 30, 2024. Additionally, those with less than five MSINs but unharmonized records would be subject to disconnection by April 15, 2024.


Adebayo explained the intricacies of the verification process, highlighting the importance of uniformity between primary and secondary data records for successful verification. He forewarned of the potential for continued disconnections if subscribers do not adhere to the laid-down regulations.


In response to the mass disconnections, the President of the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, Adeolu Ogunbanjo, conveyed their appeal to the NCC to extend the deadline until March 31, 2024. However, if the extension is not granted, the association plans to seek legal redress, signaling a potential legal challenge to the NCC’s directives. Ogunbanjo underscored the necessity of considering the plight of customers and urged the NCC to exercise flexibility in its approach to avoid unnecessary punitive measures against subscribers.

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