The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has ordered telcos to deactivate any sim card that was left unused for up to 48 hours after registration. This could be related to its efforts to end the menace of ready-to-use SIM cards sold by certain local distributors. This announcement was made by the Director, Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, yesterday in Lagos. According to Ojobo, this move is in further consolidation of the security gains achieved by the SIM card registration currently in place in the country.
Ojobo said that due to the SIM card registration directive, criminal activities perpetrated via the use of mobile phones has drastically reduced especially as the registration involved the collection of trackable data such as biometric identification.
“While traditional identification relies on passwords, PINs, smart cards, and the likes, biometric identification, using finger prints and iris scans are generally more reliable and secure. The are adopted more universally like in driving licenses and international passports. Biometrics identity are also more reliable in linking individuals to event and actions. It is therefore preferred by security institutions in fighting crimes.” Ojobo said.
Further stressing the importance of citizen identification databases, he linked the efforts of his agency to the popular Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “Citizen registration is now an item in post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda with 2.4 billion people identified as having no official identity and these people reside in Africa and Asia.” he said.
The SIM card registration directive requires all users to provide identification such as facial recognition and fingerprints in order to link their profiles to the phone numbers that they purchased. It is believed that this has greatly reduced the number of crimes committed via mobile phones. However, the Commission has faced challenges in implementing this directive as some local SIM card sellers prefer to carry out wrong identification process in a bid to sell ready-to-use-sim cards. In addition, the NCC had to heavily fine MTN Nigeria, a local telco, for failure to disconnect unregistered subscribers.