The minister of communications, 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).
While inaugurating Mr Adeolu Akande, governing board chairman of the NCC, and Mr Uche Onwude, non-executive commissioner, in Abuja, the minister said 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 used to commit crimes. We do hope you will hit the ground running,” he said.
The minister cited a recent report by NCC and said that the recent verification of 9.4 million SIM cards revealed that one person had 57 registered SIM cards on one network.
last September, telecom companies were asked to review the registration of about 9.4 million sim cards across the country who were suspected to be improperly registered.
The federal government has to do this according to the minister as a result of an increase in the number of kidnappings and other forms of crimes in the country.
The minister listed 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 urged 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, Profesor Umar Danbatta, executive vice-chairman of NCC, 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.