By Chuks Emele
Nigerian Communications Commission has ordered the suspension of the sale and activation of new phone lines by telecommunications operators pending an audit to root out pre-registered sim cards.
“The directive became necessary against the background of the preponderance of pre-registered SIMs with the attendant security implications associated with the use of same to facilitate criminal activities,” Ikechukwu Adinde, NCC’s director of public affairs said on Wednesday in a statement.
The decision to halt the registration of new phone numbers was in compliance with the directive of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami. Exceptions can only be made in special circumstances with the prior approval of the federal government, according the statement.
NCC said “that non-compliance with this directive will be met with strict sanctions, including the possibility of withdrawal of operating license.”
Nigeria has in recent years battled a surge in criminal activities, including kidnapping for ransom by criminal gangs, who conducted negotiations with victims’ family members using unregistered sim cards.