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NCC sanctions mobile operators over pre-registered SIM cards

By EMEKA AGINAM

Telecoms regulatory authority, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, yesterday, imposed fines on four mobile services operators including Etisalat, MTN, Airtel and Globacom respectively for contravening the provisions on pre-registration of SIM Cards in Nigeria.

This, according to the Commission, was in furtherance of the ongoing enforcement of the provisions of the Telephone Subscribers Registration Regulations 2011.

The fines imposed, according to NCC, were based on the number of fully activated new SIM Cards that were either reported to the Commission or purchased in compliance with monitoring and enforcement exercises conducted by the Commission, and validated by the offending network.

Each of such pre-registered SIMs found attracts a penalty of N200,000 , NCC said in a statement.

Accordingly, Airtel Nigeria Networks Ltd  was  liable to payment of a fine of N8, 600, 000  for the availability of 43 pre-registered SIM Card during the exercise.

Similarly, Emerging Markets Telecommunications Service Ltd, EMTS ( Etisalat) was also liable to pay a fine of N5,000,000 for contravening on 25 pre-registered SIM Cards while Globacom Ltd  was  liable to a fine of  N11,000,000  on 55 pre-registered SIM Cards.

MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd  was  liable to pay N29, 200,000 for contravening on 146 pre-registered SIM Cards.

The service providers were given up to seven days within which to pay the fine, failure of which attracts N500,000 ( Five Hundred Thousand) for any additional day that the contravention persists.

The Commission in the notice of sanction to the service providers signed by the Director, Legal and

Regulatory Services, Ms. Josephine Amuwa,  and Director, Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement, Engr. Ubale Maska, said the fine was  in exercise of its discretionary powers following prior warnings in April 2012 that  Network Service Providers will be liable for breaches by their Registration Centres carrying out pre-registration of the New SIM Cards for sales, since it is the providers that activate these new SIM Cards.

“Based on the report of enforcement exercises against hawkers, agents and backend suppliers of fully activated pre-registered New SIM Cards in the year 2012, and first quarter of 2013, it has been established that there is an urgent need to sanction all Network operators who have not complied with the Direction” the Commission said.

Already, the  Commission reminded the service providers that it had at the commencement of the SIM Registration exercise project instructed that all New SIM Cards going into the distribution and sales channels must only be activated as “receive only” with a proviso that all such cards can only call emergency numbers and operators’ call centres for a period of 30 days, failure to register such SIM Cards thereafter will render such SIM Cards inactive.

The Commission also reiterated the general public have been severally informed that it is illegal to sell or purchase pre-registered SIM Cards, and that anyone buying or selling pre-registered SIM cards shall be prosecuted and such person or person(s) shall be liable to any crimes committed with the use of such lines.

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