Nigeria has given telecoms operators two weeks to block subscribers who fail to link their mobile SIM cards with national identity numbers.
Nigerians must have a national identity number as part of measures the government says will help tackle insecurity in the country and build a unified database.
The Nigerian Communications Commission in a statement late Tuesday directed operators to “require all their subscribers to provide a valid national identification number to update SIM registration records.”
The commission said the decision was taken by all with a stake in the question, including the telecommunications companies that serve 203 million subscribers.
It gave operators two weeks, from December 16 to December 30, to comply.
“After the deadline, all SIMs without national identification numbers are to be blocked from the networks,” it warned, adding that it would not hesitate to revoke licenses.
Industry analysts say the two-week deadline is not realistic.
.The leading operators in Nigeria are South Africa’s giant MTN, Airtel, Etisalat and Global Communications.
In 2015, MTN was sanctioned after failing to disconnect 5.1 million subscribers amid concerns the lines were being used by Boko Haram insurgents.
Africa’s biggest wireless operator was initially fined 3.2 billion euros ($3.9 billion) but after a series of negotiations, the fine was reduced to 1.2 billion.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has asked the National Communications Commission (NCC) to extend the 31st December deadline issued to sim card owners to submit their National Identification Numbers (NIN) to their network providers to prevent blocking.
The motion was moved on Wednesday during plenary by the House Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu. According to the lawmaker, two weeks is too short for 200million Nigerians to conclude the process.
The House lauds the intention of the NCC, for security reasons but wants the process to be extended to 10 weeks, considering the difficulty experienced by Nigerians in attaining the NIN.