Telecoms Subscribers Jitter Over SIM Deactivation As NIN-SIM Registration, Linkage Ends Today

Telecoms subscribers who are yet to register and link their National Identification Number (NIN) with their Subscriber Identification Module (SIM card), are beginning to jitter over the initial threat by the federal government to deactivate all SIM cards that are not linked to NIN, after today’s deadline of March 31, 2022.

Allaying such fears, the Head, Corporate Communications, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Mr. Kayode Adegoke, however said in as much as the deadline for NIN-SIM registration and linkage is today, NIMC registration centres would still be open to telecoms subscribers who could not register before today’s deadline.

According to him, “NIN registration is continuous and registration will continue, even after the linkage deadline.”

Despite the assurance from NIMC on the continuous process of NIN registration, most subscribers who had already registered and obtained their NINs, are still afraid that they may be cut off from communication, should the federal government make do its threat to deactivate all SIM cards that are not linked to their NINs after the March 31 deadline.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, had in December 2020, directed the telecoms industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to order telecoms operators to deactivate any SIM card that was not duly registered and linked to subscribers’ NIN, after the initial December 31, 2020 deadline, given for NIN-SIM linkage.

Based on the inability of subscribers to meet up with the December 31, 2020 deadline, the federal government had to postpone the deadline and had since then, postponed it 10 times to date.

At the last postponement, which was on December 31, 2021, Pantami conveyed the approval of the federal government to further extend the deadline for the National Identification Number (NIN)-Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) data verification, from December 31, 2021 to March 31, 2022.

Pantami, in a statement jointly signed by the Director, Public Affairs at NCC, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde and the Head, Corporate Communications, at NIMC, Mr. Kayode Adegoke, said the extension became necessary, following the request by stakeholders, including citizens, legal residents and Nigerians in the diaspora, to extend the date in order to give Nigerians ample time to register their NINs.

As the latest deadline ends today, some subscribers who spoke with THISDAY, expressed their fears of been cut off from telecommunications link, should the federal government make do its threat to deactivate any SIM that is not registered and linked to NIN, after today.

Their fears became heightened, since the federal government may not likely extend the deadline again, after extending it 10 times since December 2020.

Investigation carried out by THISDAY this week, showed that many subscribers were rushing to different registration centres to register their NIN and to link same to their SIM cards in order to beat the March 31 deadline. Registration centres were taken to different churches in Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Ibadan, just to ensure that telecoms subscribers were duly registered and their NINs were linked to their SIM cards.

Some subscribers however took to the alternative forms of registration and linkage provided by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), to carry out the process of linking their NINs to their SIM cards. NIMC provided a mobile app that subscribers could download on their mobile phones and do self linkage, without visiting any NIMC registration centres or their registered agents.

Chukwuemeka Okafor, a telecoms subscriber, said he was yet to register because he had no time to go to NIMC’s registration centres. He however said he tried to download the NIMC app but was unable to link his NIN to his SIM, each time he tried doing so.

Mercy Olaniyan, another telecoms subscriber who said she was able to download the NIMC app and did the linkage with ease, however said her relations and several others in remote areas of the country that could not access the internet, would find it difficult to download the app and may be cut off from further communication, since there are no NIMC registration centers in most remote communities.

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