Blocking of SIM cards: Reps call for extension

The House of Representatives has urged the Nigerian Communications Commission to extend its ultimatum to block phone numbers without National Identification Numbers (NIN) by 10 weeks.

The lawmakers took the decision while adopting a motion brought under matters of urgent national importance by the minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu.

The federal government had on Tuesday ordered all telecommunication service providers to ask its subscribers to provide their NIN within two weeks.

Subscribers who fail to do so within the timeframe are to be blocked from using their SIM cards.

The resolution was reached at a meeting between the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy and stakeholders in the communication industry on Monday.

The resolution was disclosed by the spokesperson of the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) in a statement on Tuesday.

The major telephone networks in Nigeria are MTN, Globacom, Airtel and Etisalat.

The meeting affirmed the earlier directive to suspend the registration of new SIM cards by all operators.

Emphasising the need for the extension, Mr Elumelu said two weeks was too little for the over 200 million Nigerians, especially considering the Christmas period.

“As laudable as the idea behind the policy may seem, the timing is very wrong because Nigerians have not been properly sensitized, as only a few educated persons who bother to read the dailies might have heard about this instructions.

“Therefore trying to enforce this policy in a period where most Nigerians are gearing up for Christmas festivities may lead to stampede in the process of rushing to get registered which could lead to unnecessary death and injuries.

“If the NCC is allowed to carry out this directive, it will bring about untold hardship as millions of subscribers will be disconnected this yuletide period which could spell disaster in an already volatile nation like ours.”

“If the NCC is not urgently called to halt their plans there may be unnecessary panic in the country, which may lead to exploitation of vulnerable Nigerian thereby causing more pains in an already pathetic situation, hence the need to urgently wade into this impending crisis,” he said.

Adopting the motion, the House urged the NCC to instead give a reasonable amount of time to enable Nigerians submit their national identity numbers to service providers.

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