The House of Representatives has instructed the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, to extend the deadline for the re-registration of all SIM cards in Nigeria, using the Nigerian Identity Number, NIN, to February 2021.
The Commission on Tuesday, issued a two-week ultimatum to telecommunications service providers to use the NIN, to re-register all SIM cards in the country, to mitigate cases of miscreants using unregistered cards to commit crimes in the country.
The House reached the resolution in plenary after passing a Motion entitled “Need for the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), to give Nigerians reasonable time to submit their National Identification Number for SIM registration”, sponsored by Ndudi Elumelu Minority Leader, (PDP-Delta).
Elumelu noted that “the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is the independent body saddled with the responsibilities of regulating telecommunications services and facilities, promoting competition and setting performance standards for telecoms operators in Nigeria, with the Ministry of communication and digital economy as the supervisory ministry”.
He argued further that “in January 2020 the minister of communications and digital economy issued a statement wherein telecom subscribers were mandated to get their National Identity Numbers (NIN) and submit to the network operators, with the aim of ascertaining the true identities of all subscribers and thereby blocking loopholes currently being exploited by unscrupulous individuals”.
He said he was aware “that at a stakeholder meeting convened on the 15th day of December 2020 by the Minister of communications and digital economy Dr Isa Patami, the federal government issued a statement signed by the director of public affairs NCC Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, wherein it stated that any telecom subscriber who fails to submit his /her National Identity Number to its network provider would be blocked from the network with effect from December 31st 2020”.
He raised concerns that “as laudable as the idea behind the policy may seem, the timing is very wrong because Nigerians have not been properly sensitized, as only a few educated persons who bother to read the dailies might have heard about this instructions, therefore trying to enforce this policy in a period where most Nigerians are gearing up for Christmas festivities may lead to stampede in the process of rushing to get registered which could lead to unnecessary death and injuries”.
He also warned that “if the NCC is allowed to carry out these directives, it will bring about untold hardship as millions of subscribers will be disconnected this yuletide period which could spell disaster in an already volatile nation like ours”.
He expressed worries “that if the NCC is not urgently called to halt their plans there may be unnecessary panic in the country which may lead to exploitation of vulnerable Nigerian thereby causing more pains in an already pathetic situation hence the need to urgently wade into this impending crisis”.
The House, after a few comments from members and a few amendments, resolved to order NCC to extend SIM card registration to ten weeks.
The House also called on the Commission to “give a reasonable amount of time to enable Nigerians to meet with the instruction of submitting their National identity numbers to service Providers and not the 2 weeks given”, as it also mandated its house committee on communications to ensure compliance”.