FG makes National ID compulsory for old and new SIM cards

Isa Ali Pantami

Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, has directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to revise the policy on SIM card registration and usage, stating that the National Identity Number (NIN) should be made a prerequisite for the registration of new SIM cards.

This was contained in a statement on Wednesday by Femi Adeluyi, Technical Assistant on Information Technology to the minister.

The statement said the move is in line with the powers of the minister as stated in Section 25(1) of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003- “the Minister shall, in writing, from time to time notify the Commission or and express his views on the general policy direction of the Federal Government in respect of the communications sector.”

It also said the revision of the policy is based on feedback received from security agencies following the successful revalidation of improperly registered SIM cards in September 2019 and the blocking of those that failed to revalidate their SIMs.

According to the statement, the updated policy is expected to include the following provisions, among others: “Ensure that the National Identity Number (NIN) becomes a prerequisite for Nigerians registering new SIM cards (while for foreigners, their passports and visas should be used), while already registered SIM cards are to be updated with NIN before 1st December, 2020.

“Ensure that only fully accredited agents support the SIM card registration process without pre-registering SIM cards themselves, while the eventual registration should be done by the operators.

“There should be a maximum number of SIM cards that can be tied to a single individual, possibly a maximum of 3.

“Ensure that no unregistered SIMs are ever allowed on mobile networks.

“Ensure that subscribers can easily check the number of SIM cards registered to their name, along with the associated phone numbers and networks.

“Ensure that mobile network operators fortify their networks against cyberattacks and ensure that they adhere to the provisions of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR).

“Ensure that SIM cards that have been used to perpetrate crimes are permanently deactivated.”

The statement also said the NCC is to provide the minister with progress reports on the implementation of the revised policy.