NIN-SIM Linkage: Subscribers seek extension as NCC retains Feb 28 deadline

•NATCOMs laments slow processes, hitches
• Banks also want customers to link NINs to BVN

Telecommunication subscribers have appealed to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to extend the NIN-SIM linkage deadline from tomorrow to March 31, 2024.

However, the NCC said the deadline remains sacrosanct and would not be changed. If the NCC goes on with tomorrow’s deadline, millions of subscribers will be banned from telecommunications services nationwide.

Under the aegis of the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMs), they said the extension would enable affected subscribers to complete the process.

Recall that the NCC had last December handed a directive to MTN, Globacom, Airtel and 9mobile to completely ban SIMs not linked to owners’ NINs on their networks by February 28.

The linkage of the NIN to SIM is a policy by the federal government through the NCC to improve the integrity and transparency of the SIM registration process and consolidate the achievements of the exercise. The long-term goal of the initiative is to attain a widespread digital identity database and improve security in Nigeria.

The linking involves validating the NIN with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and matching the subscriber’s NIN records with the SIM registration information (verification) to ensure proper subscriber identification.

Speaking with The Guardian, yesterday, the President of NATCOMs, Deolu Ogunbanjo, said it has become imperative to have an extension, stressing that millions of subscribers are yet to completely link their SIM to NIN.

Ogunbanjo, who appealed for an extra month grace till March 31, said by then, whoever failed to link could be removed from the network, “then, nobody would neither blame the NCC nor the telecoms operators. We plead that NCC should extend it by a month till March 31. We are not asking for any three months extension this time around”.

The NATCOM boss noted that like Nigerians, ‘we don’t act until very late. I was at some of the outlets last week and I saw subscribers rushing to complete the process. The operators too can attest to the fact that so many people are yet to link NIN to SIM. So, we plead with Dr, Maida to be considerate and grant us a one-month grace for people to complete the process.”

In a telephone chat with The Guardian yesterday, the Director of Public Affairs, Reuben Mouka, said no plan to extend the deadline beyond tomorrow, February 28.

“I am not aware of any extension and certain that there won’t be. I don’t know what to say, but the fact is that there is no change in that deadline. The deadline, which is February 28, stands.”

Already, 9mobile has issued a disconnection notice to affected subscribers on its network, urging them to rectify any corrections that need to be made before the deadline.

The firm, in a statement, warned that customers, who do not comply with this directive, will be unable to make or receive calls, have no access to the Internet, no SMS, no One Time Password (OTP), and no bank alerts.

The Director of Customer Care at 9mobile, Ehimare Omoike, who said that this action was in line with the directive of the NCC, noted that at the moment, more than 35 per cent of subscribers’ lines are yet to be linked to their NIN, forcing authorities to issue a deadline.

In a similar situation, banks have also called on their customers to start linking their NINs to their Bank Verification Numbers (BVN).

For instance, GTB, in a notice, said: “We would like to inform you of the mandatory requirement to link your Bank Verification Number (BVN) and National Identity Number (NIN) to your personal GTBank Account. The process of linking your BVN and NIN to your Account is simple and can be completed using any of these channels.”

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