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SIM deactivation: Angry subscribers storm network centres

By on August 21, 2015

Following the commencement of deactivation of all unregistered and improperly registered SIM cards across telecoms networks, as directed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), irate subscribers whose phone lines have either been barred or deactivated, yesterday stormed the customer care centres of network operators in Lagos.
THISDAY noticed an unprecedented crowd at various telecoms centres in Lagos queuing up to re-register their SIMs that had been either barred from making calls or deactivated from the network because they were not properly registered.

From Etisalat to MTN, Globacom and Airtel, the situation was the same, where an unusual large number of subscribers were seen trooping in and out of the centres monitored in Lagos by THISDAY.
As a result of the crowd, numbers were given to subscribers as they came in and they patiently waited their turns before they were attended to.

Some who could not wait, left and resurfaced later in the day to meet larger crowds. While they were waiting, some of them who got tired and were annoyed were seen demanding to know why the operators had to subject them to long waiting periods just to re-register the SIM cards they had earlier registered.
Some threatened to take network operators to court for inconveniencing them. “If network operators failed in their duties to properly register subscribers, whose fault is it and why should we be subjected to unnecessary hardship for no fault of ours,” some of the subscribers querried.
Some complained bitterly about the time wasted as a result of the long wait just to re-register their SIM cards.
THISDAY however noted that network operators tried to manage the situation by deploying more staff to handle the re-registration exercise, yet the number of subscribers who came kept increasing by the minute.
The Etisalat Experience Centre along Allen Avenue in Ikeja, Lagos, witnessed a beehive of activities as people were irritated and impatient following the inability of the network officials to attend to them on time.
As a result of the completion of the monitoring of networks on Tuesday for SIM card deactivation compliance, the NCC monitoring team led by Mr. Efosa Idehen, discovered that operators did not fully comply with its directive and threatened to sanction them for non-compliance.
The threat, THISDAY gathered, compelled the telecoms operators to begin the full deactivation of unregistered and improperly registered SIM cards on their networks.
Most subscribers, who stormed the centres, said they suddenly started getting text messages and calls from network operators asking them to re-register their SIM cards.
In some cases, phone lines were barred by placing them on receiver mode only, which allows them to receive calls only without being able to make calls, while some lines were completely deactivated.

The action of the telecoms operators was what compelled the subscribers to rush to the centres nearest to them to perform the exercise.
The directive to deactivate unregistered SIM cards became necessary, following the spike in crimes by deviants using mobile phones.
The deactivation of SIM cards is also in line with the resolution reached at the meeting with NCC, the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and industry stakeholders.
NCC had on August 4, directed all telecoms operators to commence deactivation of SIM cards and gave them seven days to do so or face sanctions.

Upon the expiration of the ultimatum, NCC commenced monitoring for compliance, which ended on Tuesday.