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95m subscribers have invalid SIM data – NCC

…regulator has indicted itself, telcos say About 95million subscribers have had their SIM data improperly captured by the telecoms operators, fuelling crimes like kidnapping in…

  • …regulator has indicted itself, telcos say

About 95million subscribers have had their SIM data improperly captured by the telecoms operators, fuelling crimes like kidnapping in the country, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said.

But the telecoms operators retorted this saying the country’s telecom industry regulator has indicted itself.

The NCC said yesterday it will no longer be business as usual for perpetrators of fraudulently registered Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards as it will henceforth prosecute those indulging in the illegal activity for felony with a 25-year imprisonment as prescribed by law.

This is just as the commission disclosed that since the SIM registration exercise started in 2011, “A total of 151,449,837 registration data of subscribers have been processed, with only 55,749,652 records valid, making 63.2 per cent of the total records invalid based on invalid face capturing and fingerprints”, thereby underscoring the importance of proper SIM registration.

According to the commission, henceforth, once an agent engaging in pre-registered SIM cards is arrested, the culpability in such a case will cascade to other players in the SIM registration value chain, including the super agents, the Heads of Marketing of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and possibly the chief executives of licensees who illegally benefit from such illegal SIM registration activities to meet their marketing targets.

The Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management of NCC, Mr.  Sunday Dare, who stated this during the South South regional sensitisation workshop on the dangers of fraudulently activated SIM cards organised by the commission in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, insisted that the right thing must be done by the registration agents and their MNOs to curb the dangers posed by the menace.

According to Dare, who was represented at the forum by the Director, Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement at the commission, Mr. Efosa Idehen, the new move followed eight years of continuously fighting cases of fraudulently registered or activated SIM cards by the commission; starting from 2012, without appreciable compliance by the MNOs and their different layers of registration agents across the country thereby constituting a threat to national security and jeopardising national interest.

Dare explained that aside several sanctions provided in the Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations 2011 for improperly registered SIM cards, penalty for violation, imposition of N1m on a person found to be dealing with subscriber information in a manner inconsistent with the regulations, arrest and prosecution,  among others, which the commission  had been enforcing,  the NCC “will begin to be placing national security and national interest against anybody found culpable in fraudulently registered SIM cards in the telecoms industry.”

But speaking with Daily Trust on phone yesterday, the Chairman of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Engr Gbenga Adebayo said by saying the telcos didn’t do the SIM registration properly the NCC had shot itself in the foot.

‘’NCC has by this statement indicted itself. The regulator gave us the template with which we used and based the registration of subscribers upon. Now it is saying the template is bad. It has indicted itself’’, the ALTON chairman said.

Meanwhile, aside representing Dare at the event, Mr. Idehen, who made a separate in-depth presentation on the dangers of dealing in pre-registered SIM cards, took the participants through the various regulatory interventions already implemented and other ongoing initiatives all aimed at enforcing broad range compliance with SIM registration rules in the last eight years.

“Unfortunately,  despite the level of stakeholder engagements, sanctions so far imposed, arrests made and prosecutions secured through working with law enforcement agencies, among others, the level of compliance with the SIM registration rules by the various players across the SIM registration value chain remains unsatisfactory,” he said.

According to him, the low compliance level had, therefore, necessitated the need for the sensitisation workshop to, once again educate all players in the SIM registration value chain on the dangers posed by fraudulently registered SIM cards to the country’s national security.

“It is no longer going to be business as usual for all players in the SIM registration value chain. We will no longer allow some deviants to jeopardise our national interest and national security.

“Today, cases of fraudulently registered SIM cards have been aiding and abetting robbery cases, kidnapping, financial fraud and all manners of criminality where the anonymity of the registered subscribers make criminal investigation difficult for the law enforcement agencies.

“That is why we will now be pleading breach of national interest in the prosecution of arrested perpetrators of pre-registered SIM cards,” Idehen said.

“Agents must ensure that clear pictures of the subscribers are properly captured, that their fingerprints are well-taken and that only four ID cards are recognised for now, any of which must be presented and confirmed by the registration agents before doing SIM registration,” stressing that MNOs and their agents should accept the mantra: “No valid identity card, no SIM registration,” he added.

 

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