By Adedapo Adesanya
Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami, has called on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to ensure Subscriber Identification Number (SIM) cards registration is linked with the National Identification Card (ID Card) and Bank Verification Number (BVN).
According to the Minister, who made the call while inaugurating the Governing Board Chairman of the NCC, Mr Adeolu Akande, and a Non-Executive Commissioner, Mr Uche Onwude, in Abuja, doing this will help to curb criminal activities in Nigeria and ensure protection in the country.
”Try to see how our SIM card registration will be linked up to our national identification card. We cannot allow criminals to continue to use telecom networks to perpetrate crimes.
“Many lives will be lost if we do not do this. Let us ensure our country is protected and ensure that our platform is not use to commit crimes. We do hope you will hit the ground running,” he said.
Citing a report by NCC, the Minister said that the recent verification of 9.4 million SIM cards revealed that one person had 57 registered SIM cards on one network.
In September last year, telecommunications companies were asked to review the registration of about 9.4 million sim cards across the country who were suspected to be improperly registered.
Mr Pantami said the federal government requested for this to be done as a result of increase in the number of kidnappings and other forms of crimes in the country.
While listing the achievements recorded during the review exercise, he tasked the NCC Board to totally sanitise the industry of improperly-registered Subscriber Identification Number (SIM) cards and to develop regulations on the number of SIM cards an individual or organisation can have at any particular time.
“After that the President has directed me and the security agencies to consolidate on that achievement. Part of what you must address is to ensure that Nigerians do not have difficulties in Sim registration.
‘In the document, we said a person can own three Sim cards. Look at it and find out if the number should be retained or increased,” he said.
Mr Pantami challenged the new board to brace up for the challenges ahead, saying the appointment should not be seen as a privilege, but as a responsibility and the primary interest of the board should be the primary interest of Nigeria.
Speaking on the development, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Profesor Umar Danbatta, pledged to actualise the mandate, saying that if the problem of communication could be tackled then the problem of insecurity would be reduced.
With the swearing-in of Mr Akande and Mr Onwude, the NCC now has a fully-constituted board of commissioners as stipulated in the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003, with representatives from all the six geopolitical zones of the country.
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