The Federal Government is scheduled to meet with telecommunications operators and other key stakeholders in the sector over the recent court judgement which stopped the government from going on with its earlier plan to disconnect SIM cards not linked to National Identity Numbers (NIN) by April 6.
The meeting which is planned to hold before the expiration of the deadline is to consider the recent court ruling and look at available options.
According to a report, officials of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and operators in the telecommunications sector confirmed that the government was making progress with the NIN enrollments and its linking to SIM cards.
In the suit filed by a former second National Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and human rights lawyer, Monday Ubani, the first to fourth defendants included the Federal Government, Attorney General of the Federation, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.
An official of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy who wished to remain anonymous said, “These are issues that will be addressed in the meeting that will come up before the April 6 deadline.’’
Also confirming the planned meeting is the President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, Ikechukwu Nnamani, who stated that the Communications Minister would make public the decision of the government on the April 6 deadline soon.
Nnamani said, “The Minister will make a determination on it when it gets close to the time. There will be an implementation review meeting just before the due date to ascertain if it is necessary to extend the time.
“However, we encourage everyone to go and get their NIN and not assume it will be extended.”
What you should know
It can be recalled that the Federal Government, on December 15, 2020, directed telecommunication companies to block from their network, any SIM that is not registered with valid NINs with effect from December 30, 2020.
However, following public outcry and criticisms especially with respect to the short notice, the government gave 6 weeks extension to subscribers without NIN from December 30, 2020, to February 9, 2021, and 3 weeks extension for subscribers with NIN from December 30, 2020, to January 19, 2020.
This was further extended on February 2, 2021, to April 16, following further calls for a deadline extension or outright suspension of the NIN registration process due to large crowds.
A Federal High Court in Lagos State had on March 23, 2021, barred the Federal Government from blocking SIM cards not linked to National Identity Numbers next month in a suit filed by the former Second National Vice President of the NBA, Monday Ubani.