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FG bows to OPS’s on SIM registration, as NCC slates March 2010 for exercise

By Franklin Alli
The Federal Government may have bowed to the pressure mounted by the Organised Private Sector (OPS) on  Subscriber Identity Module(SIM) registration as Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Wednesday, declared that the exercise will take effect from March 1, 2010.


It will be recalled that the OPS, through its mouth piece, the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (NACCIMA), had been lobbying the government for the past five months , demanding that it compelled the NCC to roll out a road map for the immediate commencement of registration of all Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards in the country.

NACCIMA President, Dr. Simon Okolo, who spoke the minds of the OPS member bodies comprising MAN, NACCIMA, NECA, NASME and NASSI, decried the uncoordinated and hasty competition among the GSM service providers in flooding the streets with SIM Cards, making it possible for people to even pick them up from hawkers while in traffic without any form of records of the buyers.

OPS, he said, believes that criminals today have exploited this weakness  to now facilitate their activities  with great impunity fully aware that their identities are both unknown and untraceable, and pointed out that this has today made the GSM phone the second most valuable tool for kidnappers beside the gun.

“Across the world, nobody buys a SIM Card without proper identification and documentation of their identity from their International passport, National Identity Card, Driver’s License or Identification   from known Local government Leaders, or traditional heads for rural dwellers. In those nations there is no compromise on the requirements for sale. Nothing is left to chance,” he said.

“It is worrisome that the caution and alertness the world has assumed as a result of the new surge in crime is being increasingly overlooked in Nigeria,” he said.

On logistic problems posed by the exercise, he said it pose no problem considering its’ overriding benefits to the economy and the country’s image among the comity of nation.

“Today mobile phones have a complete global positioning system receiver located in them or can be connected to one with wires or through a bluetooth connection.

These GPS enabled phones can understand programming language, like Java and can provide turn by turn directions or information about nearby business and attractions.

Others can work like a tracking device. Nobody knows what a criminally minded person in possession of these phones can turn them into. Okolo made it clear that all these have added to the urgency of the need for the federal government to schedule a stakeholders meeting of all GSM phone services providers to Marshall out modalities for the immediate commencement of the SIM Card registration exercise if the new upsurge in kidnaping, armed robbery, 419 Scam and other violent crimes can be tackled in the country.

He said government can no longer afford to delay or foot drag on the issue especially as there is need to reassure businessmen who have been harassed by these crime threat, even as the project will help provide a more accurate data of the subscribers base in the country needed for effective planning.

Meanwhile, NCC had in a public statement, signed by its Director of Public Affairs, Dave Imoko, said that the commission has concluded arrangements for the smooth commencement of all SIM Card holders in Nigeria.  The exercise, the statement said will take effect from March 1, 2010 .


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