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NIN-SIM linkage: NCC directs telcos to bar unlinked lines from February 2024

BY Busola Aro

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The Nigerian Communications Commission has directed all telecommunication operators to bar phone lines of unlinked subscribers from February 2024.

The directive was disclosed in MTN Nigeria’s corporate filing on the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX), dated December 18, 2023.

The commission, according to the filing, signed by Uto Ukpanah, MTN’s secretary, directed a full network barring on all phone lines of unlinked subscribers and those whose NINs are unverified.

Unlinked lines are subscriber identity module (SIM) cards not yet linked with the national identification number (NIN).

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In December 2020, Isa Pantami, the ex-minister of communications and digital economy, announced the integration policy of SIM cards into the NIN database.

In April 2022, the federal government directed telcos to bar outgoing calls on all unlinked lines.

MTN said the commission’s latest directive, “is part of an industry-wide directive that requires phone lines for which the subscribers have not submitted their NINs to be barred on or before 28 February 2024”.

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“With regard to NINs that have been submitted but not verified, such lines are to be barred on or before 29 March 2024, where five or more lines are linked to an unverified NIN,” MTN said.

“Similarly, where less than five lines are linked to an unverified NIN, such lines are to be barred on or before 15 April 2024. All affected subscribers must be verified (biometrics and biodata) before their lines are unbarred.

“This is a follow-up to the NCC’s directive on 4 April 2022 requiring operators to restrict outgoing calls (one-way barring) for subscribers whose lines are not associated with NINs.

“We are further engaging the affected subscribers through all our channels to encourage them to submit their NINs for verification.”

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To ease the process, the telco said it will enhance the capacity of various service outlets for efficiency.

“We are committed to ensuring that our subscribers comply with the NCC directive and will continue to work with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to accelerate the NIN verification process,” MTN added.

“We appreciate the effort being made by the federal government to implement a reliable and sustainable National Identity Management system, which is a crucial enabler for national and economic development.

“Therefore, as a law-abiding corporate citizen and in line with our operating licence requirements, we are committed to complying with the industry-wide directive from the NCC and will provide further updates to investors on progress and potential impact with the release of FY 2023 results.”

The telco firm urged subscribers who have not yet linked their NIN with their lines to take immediate action by visiting its nearest outlet “or using any of our digital channels before the deadlines”.

MTN also advised subscribers without a NIN to visit any of the NIMC’s enrollment centers nationwide to enroll for the identity number.

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