NCC Stands Firm on NIN-SIM Linkage Deadline, 12 Million Lines at Risk of Deactivation

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has affirmed that there will be no extension of the February 28, 2024, deadline for linking Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards to National Identification Numbers (NINs).

Consequently, telecommunication companies have been instructed to deactivate 12 million lines not linked to owners’ NINs after the deadline.

The Director of Public Affairs at NCC, Reuben Mouka, confirmed the decision, emphasizing that the NCC had not communicated any extension.

In December 2023, the NCC had directed telcos to deactivate SIMs not linked to NINs by February 28, 2024.

Additionally, the Global Satellite Mobile Communications firms were instructed to deactivate lines with submitted but unverified NINs by March 29, 2024.

The Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, confirmed telecom operators’ compliance, stating that around 12 million lines risked deactivation.

Despite speculations, Adebayo dismissed the possibility of an extension, noting that the deadline had already been extended once. The Federal High Court in Lagos, however, issued a restraining order against telecom operators from deactivating lines not linked to NINs.

The court order was part of a suit filed by a lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, against the Federal Government, the Attorney-General of the Federation, MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, and Airtel Network Nigeria Limited.

However, on Wednesday, customers expressed frustration on social media, detailing the impact of the sudden loss of connection. Telecom companies, including MTN, acknowledged the network challenges and assured customers of efforts to resolve the issue promptly.

MTN attributed the problem to multiple fibre cuts and apologized for the inconvenience, noting that services were gradually being restored.

As the NIN-SIM linkage deadline remains in effect, telecom operators and regulatory bodies continue to address the challenges associated with the process.

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