The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has disclosed that Nigeria recorded a total of 95.7 million invalid Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards registration since the exercise began in 2011.
The NCC Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Mr. Sunday Dare, reportedly disclosed this at the South-South Regional Sensitisation Workshop on the dangers of fraudulently-activated SIM cards held yesterday in Port Harcourt.
According to Dare who was represented at the forum by the Director in charge of Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement, Mr. Efosa Idehen, out of the total of 151.4 million registration data of subscribers processed, only 55,749,652 records are valid. This, therefore, brings the total number of invalid SIM card registration to 95.7m.
Also, the commission stated that invalid face and fingerprint capturing are the main factors responsible for the 63.2 percent invalid SIM card registration.
NCC described fraudulent SIM registrations as worrisome
The commission described fraudulent SIM card registration as one of the challenges that has faced the country over the past years. It was further disclosed that years of continuous fight against fraudulent operators started as far back as 2012.
According to the NCC, fraudulently-registered SIM cards have been aiding and abetting robbery cases, kidnappings, financial frauds, and all manners of criminalities. The anonymity of the unregistered subscribers makes criminal investigation difficult for the law enforcement agencies.
A threat to National Security
The NCC disclosed that past efforts to educate and sanction fraudulent SIM card registration operators had failed to yield results, hence the legal perspective due to its threat to national security.
According to Dare:
“Unfortunately, despite the level of stakeholder engagements, sanction so far imposed, arrests made and prosecutions secured through working with law enforcement agencies, among others, the level of compliance with the SIM registrations rules by the various players across the SIM registration value chain remains unsatisfactory.
“thE ACTIONS OF THESE OPERATORS constitutE threats to national security and jeopardisE national interest.
“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.”
No longer business as usual; Perpetrators to face 25 years imprisonment
It was further revealed that aside from several sanctions provided in the Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations 2011 for improperly-registered SIM cards, a fine of N1 million could also be imposed on any person found guilty of the crime.
The commission disclosed that it would no longer be business as usual, as perpetrators would be caught and prosecuted in line with the law.
“it would no longer be business-as-usual for perpetrators of fraudulently-registered SIM cards, threatening those indulging in the illegal activity with 25 years of imprisonment, as prescribed by the law.”
However, Operators’ association kicked
The Chairman of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Engr Gbenga Adebayo, reportedly kicked against this by shifting the bulk of the blame to the telco, describing the SIM registration process by NCC as improperly done.
“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’.’