Telecommunication providers in Nigeria obeyed the Federal Government’s order on Monday to block any unlinked Subscriber Identification Module – SIM card without a National Identification Number (NIN) from being used on their networks, in an effort to reduce insecurity, extortion, and kidnappings.
Reports from The Guardian Newspaper present that the Federal Government had ordered the carriers to block all current calls to unlinked SIM cards in the country through the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.
President Muhammadu Buhari issued an order in December 2020 to link all phone lines to an identification number in order to better manage abductions in the country.
Officials from various telecom companies verified that they received letters from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and have subsequently begun blocking outgoing calls from all unlinked SIMs on their networks.
Despite Buhari’s plan to link phone lines, there has been a spike in terrorist assaults and kidnappers in the West African country who want ransom money from families.
Kidnappers use unregistered SIM cards to contact the victims’ families and demand a ransom. 75 million Sims that are not registered with NIN will be unable to make calls as a result of the new order.
Isa Pantami, Minister of Communication and Digital Economy stated that since the government began sanitizing its database, no individual or official with the legal authority to request bio-data and other information about NIN-SIM for a rescue mission has approached the ministry.
“President Buhari has approved for them to do it without even our intervention as a ministry. So, with that approval, NCC has conveyed that through my office to all relevant institutions that Mr. President has granted approval for such. So, with it, they can get databases even without our permission,” Pantami said.
“But since then, they (security agents) have never complained or come to me even once to demand information from the database. The only person that wrote a letter to me was the Minister of Defence, saying that we should try to finish the NIN-SIM exercise on time,” he said.