Duplicated National Identification Numbers are responsible for the new wave of complaints from subscribers who have had their SIMs barred despite linking them to their NINs.
This, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission, is due to the activity of third-party agents who duplicate NINs for unsuspecting telecom subscribers.
The commission revealed this at a recent media briefing in Lagos.
Commenting on the issue, the commission’s Director of Compliance, Mr Efosa Idehen, said, “On the issue of already registered SIMs and NIN, the issue is that some of those SIMs were registered with duplicated NINs.
“When an audit of the system is carried out, actual owners of the NINs reclaim them. We have a lot of things that people do within the industry, especially SIM-NIN linkage for money purposes. Yes, people register their SIMs and try to link their NINs but the agents doing those registrations do a lot of damage.
“We are seeing this and want to correct it. We want a situation where when people say they are the owners of their SIMs, there is no doubt.”
This comes from recent complaints by some subscribers that their lines had been barred by telcos despite linking their NINs with their SIM cards.
The director noted that the commission was committed to ensuring that SIMs could be traced directly to their owners.
Also commenting on the commission’s effort to improve the integrity of mobile numbers, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Aminu Maida, stated, “We want to protect the integrity of our mobile numbers. When we don’t use it for a while, it has to be recycled and this exposes people to fraud.”
To battle this fraud, the EVC noted that the NCC is set to roll out consequences to deter its growth. He said, “We want to create more awareness about this so that people can understand that there is a window during which if they do not use their line, it can be allocated to another person.
“People are using mobile numbers for a lot of frauds today and this is because there is no consequence. We are coming up with a regulation that will make sure there is a consequence for using your mobile for fraud.”
A telecom expert, who recently spoke to The PUNCH on the issues associated with recycled lines, noted that telcos were currently not obligated to inform subscribers when they recycle unused lines.
The expert said, “It is recognised by the law to recycle SIM cards. Telcos pay about N200 as rent on each line yearly. What the regulation says is that if a line is dormant and without commercial activities such as sending text messages, making calls and loading recharge cards for six months, telcos have the right to recycle the line
“So, if a subscriber doesn’t use a line, the telco is losing revenue and paying rent. They have to reissue it to those who can use it. According to the rule book, telcos are not under any obligation to notify customers before they reissue lines.”