On the trail of unregistered SIM card subscribers

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From all indications, Minister of Communications Dr Isa Ali Pantami appears ready to go the whole hug to leave a lasting legacy in all agencies under the  Ministry. The Minister, since the  inauguration of the present cabinet, has been able to take steps suggesting that it would not be business as usual in the communications industry.

He has met with all the management staff of the agencies under the Ministry. They are the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST), Galaxy Backbone and NICOMSAT.

Although a comprehensive blue print on the agenda of the Ministry for the next four years has not been made public, the Minister has created the impression that there are loads of work to be done.

On assumption of duty, he declared that he was ready to work with officials of the ministry to achieve results that would lead to significant transformation of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector by leveraging the vast opportunities in the sector for the growth and development of the nation’s economy.

For instance, on receiving the baseline short-term performance targets report from the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, the minster directed all mobile network operators to block improperly registered SIM cards within a stipulated period.

Consequently, from a figure of about 9.2 million improperly registered SIM cards, about 6.8 million SIM of them had been properly registered within three weeks. And within another two weeks, the remaining two million were cleaned up from the system.

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In a statement by his media aide, Uwa Suleiman, the Minister observed that the report by NCC Executive Vice Chairman contained the precise figures of improperly registered SIM cards in use around the country. The Commission in its report, disclosed that an estimated nine million two hundred thousand (9.2M) SIM cards did not comply with the proper procedures of SIM registration. The investigation, which was carried out at the behest of the Minister, has exposed for the first time in the Telecomms history in Nigeria, the magnitude of defaulters.

Reacting to the report, the Minister expressed concern over the security implications of this discovery and further directed that the Telecoms regulator should with immediate effect, ensure that all improperly registered numbers are duly reregistered. To ensure maximum compliance, Dr Pantami has directed the NCC to ensure that all mobile network operators block all SIM cards that do not meet proper registration standards until users complied with proper reregistration procedures.

“The security implication of this irregularity is too grave to ignore and the Federal Ministry of Communications will not tolerate any actions or inactions that will compromise the nation’s security”, the Minister said.

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