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NCC suspends SIM card sales, threatens sanctions

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has ordered mobile network operators in the country to suspend sales of Subscrib-er Identity Module (SIM) cards. Failure to comply with this directive, according to NCC, may lead to strict sanctions on telcos, including the possibility of withdrawal of operating license.

The suspension, the telecoms regulator said, is to allow an audit of the current over 200 million active mo-bile lines in the country in order to ascertain that they are duly registered. This followed a directive from the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, to NCC to embark on another audit of the subscriber registration database in line with the Federal Government’s desire to consolidate the achievement of the SIM Card registration exercise of September 2019. According to a statement by NCC’s Director of Public Affairs, Ikechukwu Adinde, the objective of the audit exercise is to verify and ensure compliance by mobile network operators with the set quality standards and requirements of SIM card registration as issued by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Commission.

“Accordingly, mobile network operators (MNOs) are hereby directed to immediately suspend the sale, registration, and activation of new SIM cards until the audit exercise is concluded and government has conveyed the new direction. “However, where it is absolutely necessary, an exemption may be granted in writing by the Commission following approval from the Federal Government. “MNOs are to please note that non-compliance with this directive will be met with strict sanctions, including the possibility of withdrawal of operating license.

“As the minister had earlier directed in January 2020, all citizens are urged to immediately secure digital identification from the National Identity Management Commission and submit it to the network operators,” the telecoms regulator stated.

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