From February 28, millions of Nigerians risk being cut off telecommunications services in the country, if they fail link their SIM cards to their biometric IDs.
Recall that Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has told the companies to block all SIM cards that are not linked to the National Identification Number (NIN) by February 28.
MTN Nigeria, one of the biggest telcos in the country, has confirmed the move in a notice to its customers and partners, saying it is following an “industry-wide directive”.
The firm said it will also block any phone lines that are linked to NINs that have not been verified by 29 March or 15 April, depending on how many SIM cards are linked to each NIN.
MTN Nigeria has urged its subscribers to submit their NINs for verification as soon as possible and said it has boosted its teams and infrastructure to make the process easier for them.
The decision could affect about 12 million mobile users, based on the NCC’s figures from September.
The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) will help to enforce the new directive.
The government has already banned over 70 million SIM cards that are not linked to the owner’s digital ID since April last year.
But until now, those SIM cards could still receive calls and data. From 28 February, they will be completely cut off from all services.
The government claims that linking SIM cards to NINs will improve national security and prevent crime.
The use of digital ID has increased in the country in recent years.