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Security concern: Buhari orders deactivation of 72m phone lines without NIN link

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Telephone lines that are yet to be linked with the subscribers to the National Identity Numbers (NIN) have been deactivated. About 72.2 million such lines will be affected by the new measure.

This follows the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, a decision that was anchored on improving the worrisome security situation in the country.

Terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and other criminal activities have been on the rise across the country in recent time. The perpetrators are believed to be aided in their acts by a legion of unregistered Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) phone lines.

According to a joint statement on Monday by the Director of Public Affairs of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, and the Director of Corporate Communications of National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Mr Kayode Adegoke, all outgoing calls by defaulting subscribers have been barred.

To have access to their lines, the defaulting subscribers will have to approach NIMC to register their lines.

Last February, NCC said connected GSM lines in Nigeria are 303,636,267, out of which 197,768,482 were active.

The statement explained that out of 125 million SIMs submitted for immediate linkage with NIN, 78 million had so far been issued unique NINs. Unique NIN is the attachment of subscribers’ names to their SIMs.

In the past two years, the NIMC shifted the enforcement of the NIN-SIM linkage policy several times to ensure that subscribers were captured in its database.

The joint statement on Monday recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari gave the directive for the implementation and commencement of the NIN-SIM linkage exercise in December 2020, as part of his administration’s security and social policies.

The statement further reads: ‘The deadlines for the NIN-SIM linkage have been extended on multiple occasions to allow Nigerians to freely comply with the policy.

‘The Federal Government also took into consideration the passionate appeals by several bodies – Association of Licensed Telecom Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), civil society groups, 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, 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 on 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 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’.

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