Nigerians have expressed diverse views on the directive given by the Nigerian Communications Commissions on the suspension of new SIM sales and registration.
While mobile network operators have pledged to comply with the directive, some stakeholders have said the regulator did not consider its impact on small businesses involved in SIM registration and new businesses that would require a dedicated phone number.
Others commended the move, saying it was critical to national security.
The Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, Mr Gbenga Adebayo, who spoke with The PUNCH said mobile network operators had complied with the directive.
According to him, telcos, the regulator and other stakeholders will meet to discuss the way forward.
He said, “We are following the directive of the commission and we have complied. We are meeting sometime next week and at that meeting we are hoping we will agree on the way forward. There is nothing unusual about it.”
Also the President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, Ikechukwu Nnamani, said the regulator was trying to ensure there were no pre-registered SIM cards in circulation use to commit fraud and other crimes.
According to him, the suspension was temporary and would not affect network operators.
“There has been evidence that kidnappers use pre-registered SIM cards that did not go through the traditional Know-Your-Customer registration process. What is going on is an attempt to ensure the right processes are in place,” Nnamani added.
However, some Nigerians have aired their views on the order on social media.
One, Eze Victor Uwaezuoke, on Facebook said the directive would affect new businesses that planned to have a dedicated mobile number.
“So if there’s business that has just been registered and needs a dedicated line, they would have to wait for you to audit firstly. Does bank audit cease issuance of new accounts?” he said.
Another Nigerian simply identified as NextChallenge on PUNCH website said there was no need to stop SIM registration process in order to carry out an audit.
He said, “Why must this government choose hard impact instead of intelligence in dealing with simple issues? Audit should be a continuous activity and I don’t see how you have to shut down a system to do audit.”
However, Galantman, who also commented on PUNCH website, said kidnappers and other criminals were maximising the gap created by improper verification when registering a SIM card to perpetrate their acts.
He said, “Ask yourself, which one is better national security/human lives or so-called business environment.”
Also, Tunde Sopitan also on Facebook hailed the NCC for the suspension, saying it would stop insecurity and insurgence in Nigeria.
The NCC on Wednesday had directed telcos to immediately suspend the sale and activation of new SIM cards to allow another audit of the Subscriber Registration Database.
The Director, Public Affairs at NCC, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, in a statement said it was absolutely necessary for operators to comply until the audit exercise had been concluded.
According to him, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, directed the commission to embark on an audit of the Subscriber Registration Database to ensure operators complied with quality standards and requirements of SIM registration.