It is illegal to use a non-registered SIM card, Nigeria’s telecom regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reiterated warning that individuals-offenders risk jail terms and corporate culprits could face both withdrawal of their operational licences.
The Commission’s Executive Commissioner for Stakeholder Management, Sunday Dare, restated recently at the 3rd Anuual Sensitization Workshop on the consequences of using pre-registered SIM cards, Keffi, Nasarawa State, that the appropriate registration of SIM numbers by operators and telecom consumers in Nigeria is mandatory – not to register or use a pre-registered SIM card is a criminal offence.
NCC’s Director for Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement, Efosa Idehen, who spoke on behalf of Dare, told participants at the workshop that the objective of the SIM registration exercise is to assist in easy identification of mobile telephone users and for the detection of crimes perpetrated by deviant users of mobile phones.
According to Idehen, it is illegal to buy or use SIM cards that have been previously registered by a different, usually fictitious names and identities because this will make it difficult to trace users of such SIM cards when the cards are used for crimes. By implication, anyone who bought or sell SIM cards that have been pre-registered will be arrested and prosecuted by appropriate agencies of government.
“This explained why NCC issued directions to telecom operators to deactivate all illegal SIM cards and also instructed that any registered and activated MSISDN with no Revenue Generating Event (RGE) within 48 hours should automatically be returned to one way service” Idehen stated and added that this means a subscriber so circumstanced can only receive call on the SIM but will not be able to initiate a call. He noted that the directive to registration agents and citizens to register SIM cards only in “controlled environments” (within a permanent structure or facility), and traceable to a specific agent, is still in force.
Finally, Idehen recalled that concerns about infractions connected to SIM cards was the reason NCC sanctioned some operators, arrested and prosecuted some registration agents, and confiscated both their equipment as well as the improperly activated SIM cards found with them.