The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isah Pantami, has given a directive that mobile phone users in Nigeria should no longer have more than three SIM cards.
Pantami has also instructed that no SIM should be registered without individuals’ National Identity Number (NIN) or foreigners’ passport/visa number. He as well gave a deadline to Nigerians to update their SIM already in use with NIN.
Pantami gave this directive in a statement to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to ensure compliance from the telecommunications companies and Nigerians. This is a move to revise the policy on SIM card registration and usage in Nigeria.
The NIN will now become a compulsory requirement for SIM card registration within the country for Nigerians. For those already using SIMs without the NIN, Pantami gave them until December 1, 2020, to update. Meanwhile, foreigners will have to use their passport or visa numbers to register a new SIM card.
“The updated policy is expected to ensure that the National Identity Number becomes a prerequisite for Nigerians registering new SIM cards (while for foreigners, their passports and visas should be used), while already registered SIM cards are to be updated with NIN before December 1, 2020.
“There should be a maximum number of SIM cards that can be tied to a single individual, possibly a maximum of three,” it stated.
Why revise the policy? It was disclosed that this would “ensure that subscribers can easily check the number of SIM cards registered to their name, along with the associated phone numbers and networks.” It will also ensure that no unregistered SIM card is allowed on mobile networks.
Also, the updated policy is due to security reasons according to Pantami. This will enable security agencies to link individuals to their SIMs and records for security improvement.
“The revision of the policy is based on the feedback received from the security agencies following the successful revalidation of improperly registered SIM cards in September 2019 and the blocking of those that failed to revalidate their SIMs,” the statement said.
He stated that the directive would also guard against the breach of personal data, ensuring telecom firms adhere to the provisions of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation. The new directive is said to be “in line with the powers of the minister as stated in section 25(1) of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003.”