Barred subscribers didn’t get cleared, verified NIN – NCC 

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Monday explained reasons some telecommunications subscribers who had previously linked their SIM cards to their National Identification Numbers (NINs) were barred.

The telecoms regulatory agency had a week ago, issued a directive to telecom service providers to bar subscribers who failed to link their phone numbers to their NIN on or before February 28, 2024.

With the telecom service providers disconnecting the affected subscribers in compliance, a lot of telecoms users were thrown into confusion as their lines abruptly went down, thus disrupting their business and personal lives.    

Providing some insights into reasons such lines were barred, NCC spokesman, Reuben Muoka, said some SIM cards had verification and identification issues like disparity in information such as names and other data.

He made the revelations while featuring on a Channels Television’s programme.

Muoka said: “People who probably didn’t get a cleared or verified NIN” have been barred because “the earlier ones they submitted were not good.

“There are still some subscribers whose NINs are yet to be verified by NIMC and those have to also be corrected.”

While a lot of subscribers claimed they had previously linked their NIN with their SIM cards years ago, but still got disconnected by the directive.

In response to this, the NCC official said some lines were barred because the information on the NIN were not in concord with what the customers registered with their SIM cards.

For this group of people, the NCC spokesman said, they would have to visit the outlets of their service providers to validate their NINs and resolve other issues arising there from.

He said: “For now, it requires those physical visits to the stations to get it verified and validated but in the future, we hope that this will be done virtually.

“Take it that everybody who has not submitted his NIN to the service providers has been barred. Actually, the service providers are starting to bar people many days before the deadline.”

On the number of lines that had been barred so far, he said this would be difficult to tell at the moment, because according to him, the regulatory agency would have to carry out an audit before the end of the week based on expected data from service providers.

On reason for the NIN-SIM linkage, Muoka said: “The whole essence is actually to achieve the convenience that digital services and products will offer. By the time you have your identity together; you will be able to attend to many things. 

“Even the banks are now asking their customers to link their NINs to their Bank Verification Numbers (BVNs). It is actually to make a holistic package of all your digital services.”

In a report however, the Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, was quoted as having said no fewer than 40 million telephone lines were barred by telecommunication operators over the weekend following the expiration of the February 28, 2024 deadline issued by the NCC.

The NCC had ruled out an extension of the deadline, insisting that telcos that failed to comply with the directive risks sanction.

Adebayo was quoted in a media report (not with Blueprint) that: “I can tell you that over 40 million lines have been blocked and the affected customers are those who didn’t submit their NIN at all. Some persons have not presented any NIN to operators.

“They haven’t registered their SIMs or participated in the harmonisation programme. They simply haven’t made any presentation of the NIN number to their operators and those were the persons blocked. So why is the number so alarming despite repeated warnings? It shows many people still communicate but are not registered.”