Telecom operators have said they won’t block SIMs with unlinked submitted National Identity Number (NIN) as the January 19 deadline for the integration of NIN with SIM ends today.
This disclosure was made by the Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, who spoke on behalf of the telecom firms.
He also said Telecom firms have submitted about 43 million National Identity Number (NIN) to the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) for verification, in order to have them registered with their respective Subscriber Identification Modules (SIMs).
“I don’t have the number of SIM cards that have been linked but at the last count, NIMC told us that they have about 43 million Nigerians who have NINs. So, we will be safe to assume that a large percentage of these citizens have delivered their NINs to the operators by way of dialling the USSD access code and/or visiting the operators’ websites and uploading their NINs on the websites.
“And by extension, I will be right to say that operators have delivered those NINs to NIMC. Now, the second part of it, which is not in our control, is how many of these numbers uploaded by the operators and forwarded to NIMC have been harmonised? How many of them have been verified? That is not in our control, but as an industry, the large numbers we received from subscribers have since been delivered to NIMC.”
Adebayo pointed out that the responsibility is now that of the commission to educate the public on the number of NINs that had been verified and cleared for harmonisation with SIMs.
On whether the government would block the SIMs of subscribers who don’t yet have their SIMs registered despite submitting their NINs to their service providers, the ALTON chairman said such SIMs would not be blocked.
If you already have your NIN and you have delivered the number to your service provider and it has been acknowledged and forwarded to NIMC, I don’t think the penalty will be there for you as from tomorrow (Tuesday) if your SIM has not been registered with the NIN.
“This is because as far as you are concerned as a subscriber, you have uploaded that number to your operator and forwarded to NIMC. Now, further interrogation of that means that you are not supposed to be penalised because you have done what you are required to do to your service provider and to NIMC.”
Adebayo said the penalty would be mainly for those who do not have the NIN and who were unable to deliver their NINs to their service providers.
It can be recalled that the Federal Government had on December 15, 2020, directed the telecom operators to block subscribers who had not registered their SIMs with valid NINs by December 30, 2020.
Following a public outcry against the earlier announcement, the Federal Government extended the December 30, 2020 deadline to January 19, 2021, and also gave 6 weeks extension for subscribers without NIN from December 30, 2020 to February 9, 2021.
Meanwhile, some Nigerians have called for a further deadline extension or outright suspension of the NIN registration process due to the large crowds who are yet to have their NINs amid the risk of contracting Covid-19.