NCC issues yellow card over SIMs
By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria
The regulator of Nigeria’s telecom sector, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has warned mobile phone service providers in the country to desist from further sale of pre-registered subscriber identification modules (SIM) cards to their customers.
According to a statement endorsed by Tony Ojobo, Director, Public Affairs of the NCC, the commission’s attention has been drawn to the fraudulent practice by some vendors, warning that the commission will not hesitate to allow the full weight of the law to fall on those caught in the act.
“The attention of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has been drawn to the continuous, illegal and unauthorized sale of pre-registered New SIM Cards to members of the public by some vendors.
“It is to be noted that the Commission had earlier on issued direction that effective February 14, 2011 all new SIM cards going into the distribution/sales channels be activated as receive only and such subscribers should also be enabled to make emergency calls to emergency numbers and operators call centers for a period of thirty (30) days, and failure to register such new SIM cards within this period will render the said SIMs inactive,” Ojobo said in the statement.
According to him: “Notice is hereby given to the general public that it is illegal to sell and/or purchase pre-registered new SIM cards and that any person buying or selling pre-registered new SIM cards shall be arrested, investigated and consequently prosecuted in accordance with the laid down laws.”
He also warned network providers that they have the duty to among others: closely monitor the activities of their registration centres and ensure that their SIM cards are not pre-registered for sales; warn all their respective registration centres to desist from registering new SIM cards presented in their packs sealed.
New SIM cards should only be registered either while inserted into mobile handsets by subscribers or fully detached from their packs.
Network Service Providers will be liable for breaches by their registration centres carrying out the registration of the new SIM cards for sales, since it is the Service Providers that activate these new SIM Cards.
The Commission will hold Service Providers culpable for the activities of their registration centres for all completely packed pre-registered SIM cards retrieved from vendors during any enforcement raids. The NCC warned Service Providers to direct their registration centres to stop registering SIM cards that are fully sealed in their packs for sales and for their respective vendors to remove all pre-registered SIM cards from circulation immediately.
On the consequences of disregarding this directive, he said the consequences for pre-registering, selling or purchase of such new SIM cards may include arrest, detention, investigation, investigation, sanction and prosecution in accordance with the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003 and the Regulations for the registration of Telephone Subscribers 2011.
“The Commission considers it important to warn the general public and Network Service Providers that there shall be no proxy registration of New Network Service Providers or their appointed registration centres,” Ojobo warned.