The minister of communications, Dr. Ibrahim Pantami, has given the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) a nine-day ultimatum (beginning from yesterday, September 16) to deactivate 2.24 million improperly registered subscriber identification module (SIM) cards.
The minister who gave the directive in Abuja yesterday during the inauguration of the newly constituted board of NCC said SIM cards are usually involved in most of the crimes committed in the country.
Pantami directed the NCC to notify all the telecom operators that after September 25 any SIM that is use to commit any crime will be traced to a particular individual.
The minister described the development as a security risk to the nation, saying the Commission having rectified 6.775 million out of the original 9.2 million improperly registered SIM cards, should proceed to cut off the remaining number.
“After my announcement last week of the 9.2 million SIM cards in circulation, NCC executive vice chairman has just briefed me that about 6.775million have been rectified.
‘‘We believe that on the 25th September, 2019 we don’t want to have single incomplete registration of SIM cards in Nigeria. This means we have only 2.24 million yet to be rectified. So, we want them to be properly rectified on or before 25th September, 2019.’’
“In that direction, we want the management to immediately inform the telecoms. After 25th of September if a crime is committed and SIM is used, we only need the number of that SIM from the regulator to know the identity of the person who committed the crime. With that a lot will be achieved. We will submit the identity to the security agencies.
“From investigations, 99 per cent of crime committed in Nigeria, SIM card is involved. Before you think of any economic benefits, the constitutional responsibility of the executive is the protection of lives and properties.
‘‘So the life of one innocent Nigerian is more important than any revenue the federal government may get as a result of engineering the implementation or registration of SIM cards because you cannot think of any economic benefit if the person is not alive,”
He however, commended the commission for its efforts in reducing the number of improperly registered SIM cards in use in the country from 9.2 million to 2.42 million.
“The number of unregistered and incomplete SIM cards has been significantly reduced. Within this period they were able to rectify at least 6.775 million incomplete registration.
“So the total number of incomplete registration as at today is 2.42 million so the reduction within this period is 73.6 per cent. “It was from 9.2 million to 2.42, I think this is a significant achievement and this is highly commendable. Please maintain the tempo with the support of your board,” he added.