Worried by the dangers of improperly registered, unregistered and pre-registered Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has set up a 12-member committee to tackle the problem.
The commission said the “menace will no longer be tolerated”.
Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta declared this on Monday after a high powered meeting with all the telecommunications companies (telcos) operating in Nigeria at the NCC Headquarters in Abuja.
The meeting was the highpoint of several meetings initiated by the Commission in the last two years with a view to finding solutions to the recurrent dangers of the improperly registered SIM cards in the country.
Danbatta expressed the fears by everybody especially in reference to security reports from the office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the fear of non compliance to the Telephone Subscribers Registration Regulation 2011, by the telcos and said this can no longer be business as usual.
“We must safeguard lives and property of Nigerians who travel by road especially now and the festive seasons and others who may be threatened or blackmailed via unregistered and improperly registered SIM cards”.
Danbatta listed several security challenges that have bedeviled the country as a result of the menace of these improperly registered SIM cards. He lamented that even where SIM Cards were registered, the captured data represents strange figures different from the user of such SIM Card.
He said the dangers are real and everybody will lose at the end, hence the need to address this now before the situation gets out of hands.
While appreciating the cooperation of the telcos so far in the race to solve this problem, Danbatta said much is left to be done “hence this meeting”, for continuous engagement adding that “today’s meeting has the backing of the government which desires solutions as quickly as possible”.
Consequently, he set up a 12-man Taskforce to bring up solutions to this scourge.
The Terms of Reference (ToR) include:
· Operators must put in place a robust and active back end to check cases of improperly registered SIM Cards before activation. The use of electronic back end is preferable;
· The Taskforce should also look at the sources of these improperly and pre-registered SIM Cards by asking operators to look inwards to forestall insiders abuse;
· Processes are regularly fine-tuned to establish the integrity of data captured;
· Clear up the systems regularly to wipe off an segregate between real and fake data;
· The Taskforce is also to re-examine the 2015 agreement the Commission had with telcos with a view to harmonizing that and add new solutions;
· To put in place proactive measures to nip criminals activities in the bud, beating them in their own game;
· Suggest preventive measures for the telcos to beef up the integrity of their registering processes.
The Taskforce which has six weeks to submit its report to the EVC for onward transmission to the ONSA has Mr. Efosa Idehen, Head, Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement at NCC as Chairman; Mr. Bashir Idris, Head, Projects; Mrs. Yetunde Akinloye, Head, Legal & Regulatory Services and Mr. Salisu Abdu, Head, Enforcement all of NCC are members.
The telcos have a member each. These are Mr. Tobechukwu Okigbo (MTN); Mr. Oluwatosin Cole (GloMobile); Mr. Sola Adeyemi (Airtel) and Mr. Damian Udeh (ntel) as members.
Others include Mr. Ikenna Iheme (9Mobile); Mr. Gbolahan Thomas (Smile) and Ms Barbara Anozia (Visafone); Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) is represented by Major Emmanuel Akpan Bassey.
Danbatta who was flanked by Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management (ECSM) at NCC, Mr. Sunday Dare told the Taskforce that their work begins immediately and the six weeks are already counting.