By Bashir Olanrewaju
Nigeria has extended the time for telephone subscribers to link their national identity card numbers to avoid being disconnected.
Subscribers that already with identity numbers, have until January 19, instead of December 21, to add them to their data, according to a statement by the regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission. Those who need fresh national identity numbers have until February 9 to be compliant.
The National Identity Management Commission
” has provided strategies to enable citizens attend the registration in full compliance with Covid-19 protocols – particularly the use of facemasks, which remains mandatory, and maintenance of social distancing,” Aliyu Ariz, head of the identity agency and Umar Dambatta, head of the communications commission, said in a joint state.
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. The authorities consider ridding the telephone network of unregistered numbers a key step to dealing with such criminal activities.
With just 45.5 million Nigerians, out of a population of 200 million have acquired national identity numbers, there are fears of a disruptive economic impact with most phones linked to bank accounts and various services.