Nigeria’s House of Representatives has ordered the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to extend the two-week deadline given to citizens to update their SIM card registration with their National Identification Number (NIN) to ten weeks.
House Minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu a motion stated that while the initiative is laudable the timing was very wrong.
Following a meeting between key stakeholders in the communications sector and Isa Pantami, the Nigerian minister of communications and digital economy, the regulatory agency on Tuesday asked telecommunications companies to block SIM cards not registered with NIN after two weeks.
The directive from NCC, where it said submission of NIN by subscribers will be on until December 30, after which “all SIMs without NINs are to be blocked from the networks,” has been widely criticised by Nigerians.
“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,” the house minority leader stated.
He added further that: “Nigerians have not been properly sensitised, as only a few educated persons who bother to read the dailies might have heard about this instructions.
“Going ahead with the two-week deadline 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.
“The house is worried that 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 Nigerians thereby causing more pains in an already pathetic situation hence the need to urgently wade into this impending crisis.”
The lawmakers afterward resolved that the deadline be extended to 10 weeks and asked the committee on communications to ensure compliance.
By Abel Ejikeme