The latest SIM cards re-registration exercise forced upon telecommunication operators by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is generating controversy about the motive of the exercise. Daily Trust reports.
Recall, a similar exercise was carried out in 2013 which had cost Nigeria N6.2billion. About 100 million subscribers were registered at the time.
Rumours have started to make the round from Telecom operators that the NCC had lost the data base from that exercise and that its current directive is an indirect way of embarking on a fresh one.
However, the commission said its records and documents are all clean, and the GSM operators are ganging up to malign it.
The National Assembly in 2011 approved N6.2 billion for the NCC to conduct SIM registration aimed at stemming the tide of rising crimes.
Tens of millions of Nigerians filed out and registered their SIM cards and the database gathered during that exercise was passed on to the NCC.
The exercise ended in June 2013 but SIM card registration was allowed to continue at the points of purchase.
Two years on the NCC has now asked Nigerians to re- register their SIMs again.
This has made some analysts and observers to begin to ask questions as to what had happened to the initial exercise.
There was no official comment from NCC as at press time yesterday. The Director of Public Affairs Mr Tony Ojobo did not answer calls made to his phone. He also did not reply to a text message sent to him.
A senior NCC official, who sought anonymity told reporters that the directive affects only 47 million subscribers who did not do their registration properly two years ago.
He said: The telecoms operators are being mischievous because we only asked them to do what they failed to do properly. Criminals are capitalizing on this to commit crimes and we said: look, do this thing very well.”
“operators are only going about maligning the commission because they were penalized when they failed the deadline given them.
“Due to the dubious way they went about doing the SIM registration, we asked them to repeat it in the areas we found inconsistencies.”
“Look, we have been telling them to correct and update their SIM registration data since December last year.
“When NCC filtered through the database, we discovered that the operators, in a bid to have more subscribers, did the SIM registration haphazardly.
“We discovered many inconsistencies. About 47m did not have their photo captured very well. They registered goats, yams and even masquerades. That was why we told them to correct all the anomalies.
“NCC is not expending any money again; it is the operators that are now doing what they did not do well in the first instance.
“So, we have not spent anything and the money budgeted for the first exercise was judiciously used; we have our records and documents.”