The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said it is working with the National Assembly to criminalise mobile phones sim card infractions.
The Director, Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement of NCC, Mr. Efosa Idehen, made this known yesterday in Enugu during a regional sensitisation workshop with stakeholders.
The workshop was organised to address the dangers of dealing on fraudulently-activated sim cards.
Idehen said that it was sad that fraudulently-registered sim cards were still sold in the market in spite of efforts by the regulatory agency to stop the practice.
He said that it was the responsibility of NCC to ensure that Nigerians were safe using mobile phones.
The director said that Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and their agents must adhere to the laws that prohibit the release of fully-activated sim cards into the market.
He described the release of pre-registered sim cards to the market place as a national sabotage, which is capable of eroding national security.
Idehen named the dangers of selling pre-registered sim cards to include aiding kidnapping, robbery, financial crimes and others.
“For eight years now we have done so many things to curb the sale of pre-registered sim cards but not getting the desired results.
“We are, therefore, working on a legal framework to criminalise the release of fraudulently-activated sim cards to the market,’’ he said.
Idehen said that it had become imperative to check or remove the menace posed by itinerant registration agents and to ensure that sim card registrations were carried out in controlled environments.
He said that the NCC introduced sim card registration for national security and not for the MNOs to know their customers.
He urged MNOs to be circumspect in their businesses, saying that any infraction would cause the arrest and prosecution of all actors along the sim card registration value-chain.
“We started sim card registration because of our national security and not for the MNOs to know their customers,” he said.
He said that the NCC was also working with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to determine the role it would play in the registration process.
Idehen said that it was unlawful for any individual to register more than five sim cards in his or her name.
Earlier in an address of welcome, the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management of the commission, Mr. Sunday Dare, said NCC was building telecom subscribers’ database.
Dare said that the move was for easy identification of users and for easy detection of crimes committed through the use of mobile phones.
“Throughout the world, connectivity is creating huge opportunities for citizens. It is making us more productive and social interactions more effective and life easier.
“Unfortunately, some unscrupulous people are abusing connectivity to make life difficult for others. Hence, the need to carry out basic Know-Your-Customer (KYC) processes on our users.
“This is why most governments now mandate one form of subscriber registration or the other,’’ he said.
He said that the journey had not been smooth as there were still security reports of the existence of pre-registered sim cards.
Dare said that the workshop was aimed at discussing and resolving the challenges leading to non-compliance with the NCC directive.