NIN Deadline: Telecom Providers Deny Blocking SIM Cards

Mobile network operators in Nigeria including telecoms giants MTN and Airtel have dismissed all claims by subscribers that their SIM cards are being blocked before the deadline set for the linkage with the National Identity Number (NIN)

The Federal Government through the Nigerian Communication Commission had earlier ordered network providers to deactivate telephone lines of subscribers who failed to link their phones to their National Identity Number.

January 19 is the set deadline for subscribers to link their National Identity Number with their SIM cards while subscribers without NIN have until February 9 to do so.

But some subscribers have complained about the inability to use their lines, suggesting that telcos have started blocking their SIM cards before the deadlines announced by the government.

As a result of this, large crowds resurfaced at the centres of the National Identity Management Commission nationwide after the Yuletide break with many NIN applicants disregarding previous appointment dates given to them by NIMC.

Regarding the large crowds that resurfaced at NIMC offices after the Yuletide break, NIMC Regional Coordinator, Funmi Opesanwo, said, “A lot of applicants complained that their SIM (cards) have been blocked and that is why we are experiencing these large numbers. We are trying to manage the situation.”

When asked about the alleged disconnection of subscriber lines, The Senior Manager, External Relations, MTN Nigeria, Funso Aina, said the operator has not started blocking SIM cards not yet linked with NIN.

“It is not true that we have started blocking SIM cards not linked with National Identity Number,” Aina said.

While commenting on the same issue, Vice President, Corporate Communications & CSR, Airtel Nigeria, Emeka Oparah, also said no subscriber has been blocked yet.

 “Airtel Nigeria is committed to ensuring total compliance with the directives of the Federal Government and the Nigerian Communications Commission on linking NIN with phone numbers. We have not blocked any customer and we will not block any customer at this point in line with the directives.” Oparah said.

Meanwhile, as a result of complaints that followed the large crowds that were seen at its state offices in Lagos and Abuja, NIMC has released a list of over 50 National Identity Number enrolment centres in both cities.

NIMC Spokesman Kayode Adegoke, said the decentralisation will help in decongesting the large gatherings at the state offices in Lagos and Abuja as well as make the NIN registration process more seamless for applicants.

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 had expressed displeasure at the large crowds at NIMC offices all over the country while calling on the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, to shut down some NIMC offices over non-adherence to COVID-19 protocols.


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