SIM Registration: Is the Nigerian Communications Commission finally waking up to its responsibility in crime-fighting?

The rising insecurity in Nigeria has been a source of concern to many. Various crimes go unchecked, and some appear to be untraceable despite the prevalence of sophisticated technology to leverage on to fight and bring crime to its barest minimum – the use of information technology, for instance. This is where the crime-fighting role of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) comes in.

The Boko Haram insurgency, for instance, is one of the worst crimes that have gone unchecked and Nigerians have often wondered what role the NCC is playing to combat the menace considering how these terrorists seem to communicate seamlessly without being tracked. The commission, however, appears to have woken up to its responsibility in combating crime.

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On December 7 2020, the Nigerian Communications Commission directed telecommunications companies across the country to suspend the sales and reactivation of new SIM cards to enable it to embark on an auditing exercise of the subscriber registration database.

A letter from the NCC spotted by TheCable partly reads:

“In accordance with the federal government directive to consolidate the achievement of the SIM card registration exercise and verify compliance, the commission is embarking on an audit of the subscriber registration database to ensure compliance to set quality standards and requirements. 

“Accordingly, you are hereby directed to suspend the sale and activation of new SIM cards on your network until the audit exercise is completed.

“Please note that failure to comply with this directive will be met with strict sanctions, including the possibility of withdrawal of operating license.”

The NCC Director for Public Affairs, Ikechukwu Adinde, Wednesday, disclosed in a statement that the directive became necessary against the backdrop of the “preponderance of pre-registered SIMs with the attendant security implications associated with the use of same to facilitate criminal activities.”

The commission had in 2019, announced that the SIM registration of 95.7 million subscribers was not properly done. And the security risks attached to it warranted the need for the audit of the subscriber registration database.

The NCC has taken a step in the right direction. A proper audit will not only help them keep a record of telecoms subscribers, it will also help them to track criminal elements across the country leveraging information technology to perpetrate their criminal acts. 

It is hoped that this gesture by the Nigerian Communications Commission will help them to play their crime-fighting role effectively to make Nigeria a safer place to live in. 

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