Sales of pre-registered SIM cards boom despite fines

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The unlawful sale and use of pre-registered of SIM cards has continued and is now hobbling the efforts to get the true identities of mobile phone users in Nigeria.

The sale or use of pre-registered of SIM card carries a fine or jail term or both, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

For a telecom company, each pre-registered SIM card attracts a penalty of N200,000 and for a user an imprisonment.

Despite the fine and arrests of some sellers in some parts of the country, the sale and use of pre-registered of SIM cards is still widespread.

In effect, criminally-minded people are utilising other peoples’ identities or fraudulent information to register and distribute SIM cards that are bought by innocent subscribers and criminally-minded ones for the purpose of committing fraud without being traced as the number they use do not bear their identities.

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman, NCC, said that Nigerians must stop selling pre-registered SIM cards because it is an act of illegality that undermines national security.

According to the NCC, rather than patronise the criminals who peddle pre-registered SIM cards, the public should report them to law enforcement agencies as part of their responsibility, not only as subscribers but also as good citizens.

Elsewhere, Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, inspector general of police, described the sale and use of pre-registered SIM card as a severe threat to security sector and governance.

 “These criminal activities, including use of pre-registration subscriber identification module SIM cards should be of concern to all of us. As a law enforcement officer, it is my belief that in addressing these challenges, we must re-strategise on our noble programme of

community policing across communities and give our communities greater stake in securing national assets.

But industry experts insisted that there is a need for NCC and the Mobile Network operators to step up education on pre-registered SIM to the populace.

In addition to what the NCC has done, experts confirmed that it is time for both service providers and the regulator (NCC) to collaborate and stop every person bent on derailing the registration process through the sale of pre-registered cards.

Chuks Arubalaeze, a telecom lawyer said that cards that have also been pre-registered by wrong persons also need to be identified and destroyed because when they fall into the wrong hands.

“The consequence could affect the process and have a devastating effect on National security” she added.

The sale of pre-registered SIM cards is unethical and fundamental crime.  The implications of the sale of pre-registered SIM cards cannot be over emphasized, as innocent citizens could be wrongfully implicated due to the indiscriminate use of the pre-registered SIM cards arising from its sale to seasoned criminals and no good individuals, seeking to perpetuate one form of crime or the other.

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