NIN/SIM Link: MTN, Airtel, Glo, Others Disconnect 40millions GSM Lines

About 40 million telephone lines in Nigeria have been disconnected from various mobile telecommunication services by GSM operators in the country.

The disconnection follows the directive of Nigeria’s telecom regulator, the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC).

A report published by the Punch newspaper on Monday revealed that an additional 28 million subscribers were disconnected at the expiration  of the February 28, 2024 deadline earlier given by the NCC for all mobile phone subscribers in Nigeria to link the National Identification Number (NIN). 12 million subscribers had been earlier barred by operators on the same ground.

On Thursday February 29, 2024, the Director of Public Affairs of the NCC, Reuben Muoka had told journalists that the commission would not extend the deadline for subscribers to link their NIN to the phone numbers of get cut off from the networks.

Speaking with the Punch, the Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, Gbenga Adebayo, confirmed the disconnection of the subscribers.

He said, “I can tell you that over 40 million lines have been blocked and the affected customers are those who didn’t submit their NIN at all. Some persons have not presented any NIN to operators. They haven’t registered their SIMs or participated in the harmonisation programme. They simply haven’t made any presentation of the NIN number to their operators and those were the persons blocked. So why is the number so alarming despite repeated warnings? It shows many people still communicate but are not registered.”

The development started with the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari when his government through the NCC came up with the project as part of programme to reign in rouge operational practices among Telcom service providers as well as a move to tackle the rampant cases of kidnapping, banditry and sundry security breaches in the country.

The government then on December 20, 2020 introduced SIM-NIN synchronisation initiative. Nigeria currently has 224 million active mobile phone subscriber base.

However, despite the linkages with the NIN and Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Bank Verification Number (BVN), cases of kidnapping and scams involving both bank account numbers and seamless mobile phone communications are hardly solved in Nigeria.

Major GSM services providers in Nigeria including the market leader, MTN, Airtel, Glo and 9Mobile among others  have not given any information on their “share” of the disconnected phone lines at press time.

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