THE Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) are not leaving any stone unturned in the bid to curb the activities of criminally minded people exploiting the loop holes in the nation’s telecommunications ecosystem to perpetrate crime in the country.
In one of the latest steps taken to address the challenges posed by the criminal elements, the NCC and NSA agreed on the need to undertake an audit of the compliance level of the SIM registration exercise by the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in Nigeria. The action of the two agencies had been informed by the report that unregistered SIMs and pre-registered SIMs were being sold on the streets by the agents of the MNOs despite the law banning such transactions in the country.
The NCC and NSA had received report that the security agencies were experiencing difficulties with tracking certain subscriber numbers that have been used in certain alleged criminal activities because such SIMs lacked data on the system of the MNOs when efforts were made to track the users of the offensive lines.
Following this discovery, the NCC emerged from a meeting of stakeholders at the instance of the NSA to slam a 7-day ultimatum on MNOs to deactivate all pre-registered Subscribers Identification Module (SIM) cards or face sanctions.The meeting was attended by MNOs, the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Department of State Service (DSS), and the NCC. The meeting reviewed the various crimes and criminal activities facilitated by the usage of unregistered SIM cards across all the networks by kidnappers, terrorists, robbers and other criminal elements which posed serious threats to lives.
The meeting also mandated the operators to notify affected subscribers before deactivation of the SIM cards are effected.
NCC Director, Public Affairs, Mr. Tony Ojobo highlighted the key decisions of the meeting as including:
Seven days’ notice is hereby given for deactivation of all invalid/improperly registered SIM cards; these include all SIM cards without or improperly captured facial pictures and or finger – prints.
Affected subscribers to be notified to regularize their registrations.
The meeting resolved that:
Henceforth, ALL registrations must conform to the Data Dictionary, Technical Specifications on finger prints and facial images and the business rule agreed by all stakeholders.
All registration records must be validated before sending to the Commission; thus eliminating all invalid records that does not conform new registrations and indicate same in the monthly reports sent to Commission.
It was also resolved that operators will be held liable for cases for cases of pre-registered SIMs.
Earlier grace of 21 days given by the Commission has lapsed.
Accordingly, the Commission has commenced monitoring as from Monday, August 3, 2015.
SANCTIONs for default will apply in accordance with the SIM registration regulations.
On multiple registration. NCC Said:
The regulation did not set a cap for number of SIMs to be registered by individual or corporate subscribers.
However, operators must ensure ALL registrations valid and in accordance with the documents and specifications stated in 1 (a).
Unusually high number of registration by an individual should be flagged and reported to the commission.
The Commission and all operators are to embark on vigorous public enlightenment on the need/ desirability for subscribers to register their SIMs, as well as the dangers of selling /buying pre-registered SIMs.
Earlier, it was observed that:
To date, more than 120 million SIM cards have been registered and transmitted to the Central Database by the operators.
The validation exercise reveals a preponderance of unreliable data in terms of incomplete and/ or inaccurate demographic and / or biometric data.
The issues relating to unreliability of data essentially borders on the operators’ failure to ensure compliance with the formats and specifications that were jointly developed and agreed by the NCC and the operators before the commencement of the exercise in 2011.
The observation also image only noted that as at September 2014, about 45 per cent of the total number of registered SIMs, at that time, were deemed invalid for reasons of a) invalid portrait image only, invalid fingerprints only, invalid portrait image and fingerprints, and incorrect/ inaccurate demographic data (name, address, etc).
Since the invalid records were returned to the operators in September 2014 for correction, less than 30% of the invalid records has been resubmitted.
These resolutions were part of the ongoing efforts by government to nip in the bud the incessant occurrences of threats via telecommunications networks and the danger they portend for psyche of the citizenry.