Group begs NCC to extend deadline for barring unlinked lines

March 1, 2024
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The National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS) has asked the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to extend the deadline for blocking unlinked subscribers to March 31, 2024.

The NCC had directed all telecommunication operators to bar phone lines of unlinked subscribers from February 2024.

The directive, effective February 28, 2024, is expected to affect over 42 million inactive phone numbers, and 3 million active lines.

Unlinked lines are subscriber identity module (SIM) cards not yet linked with the national identification number (NIN).

Speaking in an interview with Technology Times on Thursday, Deolu Ogunbanjo, president of NATCOMS, said the initiative of the NCC to capture Nigerians is a step in the right direction due to security reasons.

He said the policy is a great way for the country to develop its database.

“But beyond that is the fact that NCC or the erstwhile minister has given the directive, but it’ll (the deadline) expire,” he said.

READ ALSO: NIN-SIM linkage: MTN disconnects 4.2 million lines after NCC’s deadline

“Maybe the new EVC or minister now has also given its own directive to end today. But what I would have done is how many we have achieved. So far, there are only 12 million left.

“All we would have done right now, if I were the regulator, is to now say we give you an extra 3 months or so because whether you like it or not, it was the erstwhile minister of digital economy that gave this directive.

“And you can imagine, that has been since early 2023 or so. But beyond that is the fact that here we are, the minister is here, the new EVC is here, and it is expiring today.”

Ogunbanjo asked the NCC and Aminu Maida, its executive vice-chairman, to appraise the situation to know how many subscribers are left to be linked and then give them more time.

“But because of the security situation in Nigeria for now, we are saying it is good to quickly capture everybody,” he said.

“That’s why we are not even looking at a 3 months extension, we are just looking at March 31.”

He also pleaded with the commission to ensure they extend the deadline till March 31, 2024, so that every subscriber would be captured.

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