By Odunewu Segun
There are indications that the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) may result to heavy fines on Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) over persistent breach of national security with pre-registered SIM cards.
National Daily gathered that the NCC had met with CEOs of major telecommunications companies in Abuja over the persistent breach.
Though details of the meeting on Monday are yet to be made public, indications are rife that based on the indictment made by the Army chief in another event in Abuja, and other incidences surrounding the issue of proliferation of unregistered SIM cards, NCC may be forced to invoke sanctions.
Recall that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, had on Monday this week in Abuja, took a swipe on the regulatory intelligence of the telecoms industry by indicting the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), for not doing much to end the use of unregistered SIM cards in the country.
According to the Army chief, the development remains a key failure on the side of the regulator especially in the use of digital and mobile forensics by the Nigeria military in the fight against terrorism, kidnapping and other national threats.
The army chief who spoke at the opening of the 6th International Digital, Mobile and Computer Forensics Conference and Training Expo organised by the Computer Forensics Institute of Nigeria (CFIN), averred that military investigators were able to get unregistered SIM cards from vendors last week without difficulty.
NCC had wielded the big stick in 2015 when it fined MTN N1.4trn, a fine later reduced for failing to deactivate 5.2 million unregistered and improperly registered SIM cards on its network.
NCC had fixed a penalty of N200,000 for a single infraction on SIM card deactivation and it was discovered that MTN had 5.2 million infractions, which was the number of invalid SIM cards that were not deactivated on the MTN network, which amounted to N1.04 trillion.
Other networks also faced series of sanctions, however, the MTN fine, was by far the largest in the history of GSM in Nigeria.
NCC since the beginning of this year, had through its Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement vigorously pursued agents selling pre-registered SIM cards and imposed sanctions and fines on operators.
It has also conducted several joint raids with the security agents were carried out on pre-registered SIM cards selling points in Kano, Jigawa, Abuja, Lagos and others.