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NCC gives Telcos ultimatum to deactivate pre-registered SIM cards

By on August 7, 2015

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecoms industry regulator, has asked all telecommunications operators (Telcos) and other network providers to deactivate pre-registered SIM cards on their networks, within the next seven days or face sanctions.

The ultimatum, it was gathered, was the fallout of the meeting between the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Department of State Security (DSS), the network operators and the NCC.

The meeting, which took place at the NCC boardroom in Abuja recently, attributed crimes committed against members of the public either by kidnappers, terrorists, robbers and threats to lives, to the use of such unregistered SIM cards across all the networks.

Operators were however told to notify such subscribers before deactivation of their SIM cards.

Present at the meeting, were the representatives of the NSA, Group Captain, Ibikunle Daramola, DSS, Mr. Godwin Ometu, the immediate past NCC Executive Vice-Chairman (EVC), Dr. Eugene Juwah, Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, Ubale Maska and representatives of MTN, Globacom, Etisalat, Visafone, Airtel and others.

A statement signed by NCC Director, Public Affairs, Mr. Tony Ojobo, who was also at the meeting specifically read: “Seven days’ notice is hereby given for the deactivation of all invalid/improperly registered SIM cards; these include all SIM cards without or improperly captured facial pictures and or finger prints. Affected subscribers to be notified to regularize their registrations.”

The meeting resolved that henceforth, all registrations must conform to the data dictionary, technical specifications on finger prints and facial images and the business rule agreed by all stakeholders. All registration records must be validated before sending to the commission, thus eliminating all invalid records that do not conform to the new registrations and indicate so in the monthly reports sent to commission.

It was also resolved that operators would be held liable for cases of pre-registered SIMs.

NCC had given an earlier grace of 21 days to all telecoms operators to comply with the directive, but that date has lapsed.

According to the commission, it had commenced monitoring as from Monday, August 3, 2015, and would not hesitate to sanction any operator found wanting as regards unregistered or improper registered. SIM cards.

Sanctions for default will apply in accordance with the SIM registration regulations, Ojobo said in a statement.

On multiple registration, he said NCC did not set a cap for number of SIMs to be registered by individual or corporate subscribers.

He, however, said operators must ensure that all registrations are valid and in accordance with the documents and specifications, adding that unusually high number of registration by an individual should be flagged and reported to the commission.

The commission and all operators are to embark on vigorous public enlightenment on the need/desirability for subscribers to register their SIMs, as well as the dangers of selling/buying pre-registered SIMs.

To date, more than 120 million SIM cards have been registered and transmitted to the central database by the operators.

The validation exercise reveals a preponderance of unreliable data in terms of incomplete and/or inaccurate demographic and /or biometric data, NCC said.
The issues relating to unreliability of data essentially borders on the operators’ failure to ensure compliance with the formats and specifications that were jointly developed and agreed by the NCC and the operators before the commencement of the exercise in 2011, NCC insisted.

According to NCC, as at September 2014, about 45 per cent of the total number of registered SIMs, at that time, were deemed invalid for reasons of invalid portrait image only, invalid fingerprints only, invalid portrait image and fingerprints, and incorrect/inaccurate demographic data such as name, address, among others.

Since the invalid records were returned to the operators in September 2014 for correction, less than 30 per cent of the invalid records has been resubmitted, according to NCC.

These resolutions were part of the ongoing efforts by government to address the incessant occurrences of threats via telecommunications networks and the danger they portend for Nigerians and the Nigerian economy.