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FG threatens enforcement as deadline expires

THE Federal Government has said it is ready to enforce the implementation of its National Identification Number–Subscriber Identity Module policy as the deadline for the verification exercise ended on Thursday (yesterday).

However, it has given telecommunication subscribers a couple of days to ensure that their SIMs are linked to their NINs.

Prior to this, the FG had extended the deadline for the SIM-NIN verification exercise from December 31, 2021, to March 31, 2022.

The Federal Government disclosed the latest development in a joint statement titled, ‘Federal Government Urges Citizens to Link NIN to SIM without Delay.’

The statement was signed by the Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde; and the Head, Corporate Communications, National Identity Management Commission, Mr Kayode Adegoke.

The statement said, “The general public would recall that the Federal Government approved an extension of the NIN-SIM linkage deadline to the 31st of March, 2022.

“In preparation for the enforcement, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami urges citizens and legal residents to use the next few days to ensure that they complete the linkage.

“To this end, the Honourable Minister has further directed that NIMC should offer enrolment services round-the-clock for the next few days.  Prof Pantami also thanks all those who have completed their NIN-SIM linkage.

“On behalf of the Honourable Minister, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, and the Director-General/CEO of NIMC, Engr. Aliyu Aziz, urges citizens and legal residents to take advantage of the window to complete the process of enrolment and verification within the next few days.”

When the SIM-NIN policy is implemented, SIMs that are not linked to their NINs will stop working. Commenting on this, the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, Adeolu Ogunbanjo, said the government cannot enforce the policy yet because of the various challenges limiting the SIM-NIN exercise.

He said, “They cannot implement the policy yet because there are so many situations why they cannot not. A lot of SIM-NIN centres have capacity challenges. There are downtime challenges too, and this has a lot of impact on the SIM-NIN registration process.

“I think what they are trying to say is that for now, there is no use extending the deadline for another three months since something else might cause another extension. What we want to hold on to is the indefinite suspension.

“A couple of days doesn’t have a timeline. If there is a date timeline, there might be an issue. But without a timeline, it is indefinite. We believe this is indefinite because there are so many network challenges that cannot just be stopped.”

He added that if the issues surrounding the SIM-NIN exercise weren’t solved, the extension might take longer.

Meanwhile, while speaking to journalists in Lagos on Thursday, the President of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, Mr Gbenga Adebayo, disclosed that the SIM-NIN exercise was making progress.

According to him, since the setting up of an industry interagency working group the exercise has made progress. He added that the outcome of the SIM-NIN exercise would be a reliable and credible national base.

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