The Federal Government of Nigeria directed telecommunications companies, to block SIMs not linked to a National Identity Number (NIN).
Consequently, about 72 million active telecommunications subscribers have been barred from making outgoing calls with their SIMs.
The Federal Government made the directive to enforce compliance with its National Identification Number-Subscriber Identity Module policy.
The directive was given on Monday morning, through a joint statement by the NCC (Nigerian communications commission)’s Director of public affairs, Ikechukwu Adinde and Kayode Adegoke, the Head of corporate communications, NIMC (National Identity Management Commission).
According to the statement, President Muhamaddu Buhari had approved NCC’s many requests and extended the deadline for compliance. After the last approved deadline, March 31, the Federal Government ordered the blocking of unlinked SIMs from April 4.
The statement reads:
“It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, gave the directive for the implementation and commencement of the exercise in December 2020, as part of the administration’s security and social policies. The deadlines for the NIN-SIM linkage have been extended on multiple occasions to allow Nigerians to freely comply with the Policy. The FG also took into consideration the passionate appeals by several bodies – Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Civil Societies, Professional Bodies and a host of others for the extension of the deadlines in the past.
Accordingly, Mr President graciously approved the many requests to extend deadlines for the NIN-SIM linkage. At this point, however, 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 Muhammadu Buhari has approved the implementation of the Policy with effect from the 4th of April, 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. Subscribers of such lines are hereby advised to link their SIMs to their NINs before the Telcos can lift the restriction on their lines. Affected individuals are hereby advised to register for their NINs at designated centres and thereafter link the NINs to their SIMs through the channels provided by NIMC and the Telcos, including the NIMC mobile App.”
NIN-SIM: How Nigerians responded
Meanwhile, many Nigerians have taken to Twitter to call out the Nigerian Government for blocking SIMs. They described the act as a display of misplaced priorities. They accused the Government of passively responding to the recent acts of terrorism while swiftly barring unlinked SIMs.
However, the Government has urged Nigerians to comply with the NIN linking policy to avoid further restrictions.