By Chuks Emele
Mobile-phone owners in Nigeria have until the last day of December to link their phone lines with their national identity numbers or risk removal from the network.
“Operators to require ALL their subscribers to provide valid National Identification Number (
to update SIM registration records,” Nigerian Communications Commission, the telecoms regulator, said in a statement on its website.
“After the deadline, ALL SIMs without NINs are to be blocked from the networks.”
With just 45.5 million Nigerians, out of a population of 200 million have acquired national identity numbers, it would be a herculean task getting all of the country’s about 200 million mobile-phone lines linked within two weeks.
A significant number of lines are also held by foreigners, who aren’t entitled to national identity numbers. The regulator ‘s statement was silent on what should become of that category of phone owners.
With many mobile-phone numbers linked to bank accounts and various services, any mass disconnection of SIM cards from networks is bound to have a disruptive effect on economic activities.
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.