MTN, Airtel, others Disconnect SIMs without NIN Linkages 2024

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By NIYI JACOBS

Telecommunications operators in Nigeria, including MTN, Airtel, and Globacom, among others, have been directed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to implement full network barring on all phone lines for which the subscribers have not submitted their national identification numbers (NINs) by February 28, 2024.

In addition, those who had submitted their NINs but have not been verified are also to be fully barred. MTN Nigeria disclosed this in a notice to the Nigeria Stock Exchange.

About NINs that have been submitted but not verified, such lines are to be barred on or before 29 March 2024, where five or more lines are linked to an unverified NIN.

Similarly, where less than five lines are linked to an unverified NIN, such lines are to be barred on or before 15 April 2024.

According to the directive, all affected subscribers must be verified (biometrics and biodata) before their lines are unbarred.

From restriction to full barring

This latest directive came as a follow-up to the NCC’s directive on 4 April 2022 requiring operators to restrict outgoing calls (one-way barring) for subscribers whose lines are not linked with NININs.

MTN said it is further engaging the affected subscribers through all its channels to encourage them to submit their NINs for verification.

“As part of these efforts, we are enhancing the capacity of our various service outlets to make the process smoother and more efficient. We are committed to ensuring that our subscribers comply with the NCC directive and will continue to work with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to accelerate the NIN verification process.

“We appreciate the effort being made by the Federal Government to implement a reliable and sustainable National Identity Management system, which is a crucial enabler for national and economic development. Therefore, as a law-abiding corporate citizen and in line with our operating license requirements, we are committed to complying with the industry-wide directive from the NCC and will provide further updates to investors on progress and potential impact with the release of FY 2023 results,” MTN stated in the notice.

The company urged all its subscribers who have not yet linked their NIN to their lines to take immediate action by visiting the nearest outlet or using any of its digital channels before the deadlines. Those without a NIN are also encouraged to visit any of the NIMC’s enrollment centers nationwide to enroll for NIN.

From December 2020 when the mandatory NIN-SIM Linkage exercise was first announced, telecom operators had lost over 20 million subscriptions as some subscribers abandoned their lines. However, the operators started recovering the loss as more Nigerians registered for NIN, bringing active subscriptions across the 4 mobile networks to over 200 million as of August.

However, with the new directive, the operators may see a further decline in their database starting from February as millions of lines currently restricted are fully barred