On Monday, the Nigerian government instructed telecommunications providers to restrict outgoing calls on mobile lines that are not linked to the National Identification Number (NIN).
Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy announced this in a statement on Monday.
According to him, the measure is part of the government’s NIN-SIM link policy execution.
The statement was signed by Ikechukwu Adinde, Director of Public Affairs at the Nigerian Communications Commission, and Kayode Adegoke, Head of Corporate Communications at the National Identity Management Commission.
Pantami expressed gratitude to Nigerians and legal residents for their aid in connecting the NIN-SIM.
It went on to say that over 125 million SIMs had their NINs submitted for instant connection, verification, and validation. Similarly, so far, NIMC has issued approximately 78 million unique NINs.
The statement partly reads, “President Buhari graciously approved the many requests to extend deadlines for the NIN-SIM linkage. At this point, however, the government has determined that the NIN-SIM Policy implementation can proceed, as machinery has already been put in place to ensure compliance by citizens and legal residents. The implementation impacts the government’s strategic planning, particularly in the areas of security and socio-economic projections.
“President Buhari has approved the implementation of the policy with effect from April 4, 2022. Consequently, the Federal Government has directed all telcos to strictly enforce the policy on all SIMs issued (existing and new) in Nigeria. Outgoing calls will subsequently be barred for telephone lines that have not complied with the NIN-SIM linkage policy from the 4th of April, 2022. ”
The Nigerian government stated a few days ago that the deadline for the ongoing national identification number (NIN) and subscriber identity module (SIM) integration effort would be extended by a few days. The exercise was supposed to terminate on March 31, 2022.
Adeolu Ogunbanjo, President of the National Association of Telecom Subscribers, called the Federal Government’s move premature.
According to him, the policy cannot be applied until the verification process is completed.
He said, “We just woke up to the news that ongoing calls will be blocked. The minister should understand that this is too premature, premature in the sense that we started this in December 2020.
I think it should be an ongoing exercise. If the minister now wants to put a timeline on it, let him meet with the operators to find out how many people have been linked.
“We need to know the percentage of progress made. There was no final notice, we only had three extra days after March 31st, which is not very tidy. We use these phones for our various businesses. This will collapse businesses.”
He added that with the NIMC’s issues, the policy should be rushed.
Ogunbanjo stated, “Six to 10 weeks ago, the portal broke down and there was nothing anyone could do. There are these issues.
“The government cannot close its eyes to all these issues and the challenges that the NIMC is experiencing. The government should not cripple businesses. There is a need to extend, and not to stop the exercise. This is a premature move.”
Civil Society organizations have also criticized the Federal Government’s intentions regarding the NIN-SIM policy.
Dare Ariyo-Atoye, Convener of the Adopt a Goal Initiative, stated in a conversation with our correspondent.
“We are beginning to wonder whether the communications minister has any other motive for demanding the NIN data beyond what is publicly known to Nigerians.” We hope the Buhari regime is not just in a hurry to harvest our data for another use post its departure next year.
The Coordinator, Human Right Writers Association of Nigeria, Emmanuel Onwubiko, added, “As far as most Nigerians are concerned, the linkage of NIN to SIM has nothing at all to do with the objective of achieving holistic national security.
“It is a gambit by the communications minister to advance a certain sinister agenda that is not connected to any of Nigeria’s national interests.”