NCC swoops on SIM dealers

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has renewed its campaign to rid the nation of the fraudulent sale and use of pre-registered SIM cards in the country, with the sealing of about three offices, belonging to mobile phone users in Abuja.

The Commission which embarked on an enforcement action in Abuja and the North central Zone, arrested three agencies using computers allocated them by the dealers to fraudulently register SIM Cards which are offered for sale to unsuspecting subscribers.

Four offices belonging to mobile phone dealers – Correspondence Ltd, Zeph Associates, Glovic Communications, and Connect Ground Towers, all located in Abuja, were identified as the source of some of the offending machines being used by some of the agents to pre-register SIM cards that are being sold in the streets.

During the enforcement exercise to some of these offices, some were unable to bring the agents for arrest and interrogation, leading to the sealing of the offices. Three suspects, a male and two females, were arrested and handed over to the police. Involvement in illegal sale and use of pre-registered SIM card can result in both fines and imprisonment. The offending machines were also impounded.

The Head of Enforcement of the NCC, Efosa Idehen, who led the team of law enforcement officers, said the crackdown on the illegal sale and distribution of SIM cards had entered the second stage, in which dealers are being tracked and the offending machines impounded.

He said such machines would assist in tracking all the illegally registered SIM cards with a view to removing them from the system.

Efosa reiterated that new SIM cards are to be inserted on phones, or unsealed from the SIM packs before being registered, and that there is no proxy registration, hence, nobody is expected to use a phone registered by another person.

“In the last eight months the NCC has gone to different states in the country arresting sellers of pre – registered SIM cards on the streets. Now the Commission is going after the companies and individuals that perpetuate this illegal act,  which corrupts the database of properly registered citizens of the country. It is the goal of the Commission to rid the system of this incorrect data”, he said.

The Head of Media and Public Relations, Reuben Muoka, who was with the enforcement team, told journalists that the enforcement which has begun in Abuja will be carried out in all parts of the country. He said the Commission had also mounted a campaign in the media to prewarn all those involved in this illegal act. He said that this stage of the enforcement is going to the foundation as operators and dealers who are implicated would be held responsible.

He said that the operators are cooperating as the data being used to track the dealers and the agents are coming from the operators which have codes for all the machines which they have supplied to the dealers.

“There is really no hiding place for all those involved in this activity as all the machines used could be identified. It’s time that the agents and sub-dealers who are the major culprits in the illegal registration acts, desist from such activities,” he said.

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