By Emmanuel Elebeke
The Federal government has directed the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC to go ahead and deactivate 2.24million improperly registered Sim cards on or before 25th September.
The Minister of Communications, Dr. Ibrahim Pantami issued the directive on Monday during the inauguration of the newly constituted board of NCC.
Pantami, who frowned at the development, described as a security risk to the nation said the Commission having rectified 6.775m out of the original 9.2m improperly registered sim cards should proceed to cut off the remaining number.
He noted that sim cards are usually involved in most of the crimes committed in the country,
He however, directed the regulator to notify all Telecom operators that after September 25th any sim that is involved in crime should be traceable to a particular individual.
He said: ‘‘I have a breaking news for you after my announcement last week of the 9.2million SIM cards in circulation, NCC Executive Vice Chairman has just briefed me that about 6.775million has been rectified.
‘‘We believe that on the 25th September, 2019 we don’t want to have single incomplete registration of sim cards in Nigeria. This means we have only 2.24million yet to be rectified. So, we want them to be properly rectified on or before 25th September, 2019.’’
In that direction, we want the management to immediately inform the telecoms. After 25th of September if a crime is committed and sim is used, we only need the number of that sim from the regulator to know the identity of the person who committed the crime. With that a lot will be achieved. We will submit the identity to the security agencies.”
“From investigations, 99 per cent of crime committed in Nigeria, sim card is involved. Before you think of any economic benefits, the constitutional responsibility of the executive is the protection of lives and properties.
‘‘So the life of one innocent Nigerian is more important than any revenue the Federal Government may get as a result of engineering the implementation or registration of sim cards because you cannot think of any economic benefit if the person is not alive.”
He however, commended the commission for its efforts in reducing the number of improperly registered sim cards in use in the country from 9.2 million to 2.42 million.
“The number of unregistered and incomplete sim cards have been significantly reduced. Within this period they were able to rectify at least 6.775 million incomplete registration. So the total number of incomplete registration as at today is 2.42 million so the reduction within this period is 73.6 per cent. It was from 9.2 million to 2.42, I think this is a significant achievement and this is highly commendable. Please maintain the tempo with the support of your board.”
The Minister further explained that the many years of telecoms revolution in Nigeria have been quite rewarding although more still needs to be done by the stakeholders, “in order to continue the auspicious march toward fully transforming Nigeria into a truly digital and knowledge-based economy.”
He said the world is increasingly being technology-driven and ICT remains a key driver of the economy of all progressive nations, Pantami said.
Responding on behalf of the board, the Chairman, Sen. Olabiyi Durojaiye thanked the President for giving them the opportunity to serve our nation. ‘‘We want to assure the President and members of the public that by the grace of God we will not disappoint the nation.”
He assured that the board members “will try our best to ensure a level playing ground for operators in the industry and ensure they play the game according to the rules”.
Other members of the board include: Prof. Umar Danbatta, the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive, Engr. Ubale Maska, among others.