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NCC blames telecoms operators for subscribers’ SIM card woes

• ALTON promises co-operation, appeals to users 

NCCTHE Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday absolved itself of any complicity in the on-going challenges telecommunications subscribers are currently facing in the country.

Speaking on Channels TV programme, Sunrise Daily, yesterday, the Director of Public Affairs at NCC, Dr. Tony Ojobo, said the operators were the ones that made things difficult for the subscribers.

About 10.7 millions lines in the country have been barred from all the GSM networks by the operators. According to Ojobo, the current challenges would have been minimised if the operators had swung into action as far back as September 2014 when the commission alerted them of some discrepancies found during harmonisation of data sent to them by the service providers.

Ojobo said the commission had returned 18.6 million SIM cards data to MTN; 7.4 million to Airtel; 2.2 million to Globacom and 10.4 million to Etisalat for corrections, stressing that the returned SIM cards had one challenge or the other, including some that were pre-registered and others without the required biometric information. “I think the bulk of the blame would stop on the table of the operators.

They failed to do what they were supposed to have done earlier. The commission sent the list of improperly registered subscribers to the operators in September 2014.

In October 2014, the commission wrote to the service providers indicating that they had still not responded to the communication in terms of those data that were not duly captured and requested that they should do that immediately and get back to the commission. This continued until the meeting of August 4, 2015.

The operators were expected to have long before now sent SMS to affected subscribers requesting them to go and get their data corrected or risk deactivation.

But nothing was done until now.” According to Ojobo, who said any erring operator that still harbours defective SIMs on their network and if detected would pay N200,000 per SIM, according to the stipulated law, noted that deactivation does not mean total withdrawal of the lines,but that it simply indicates that the registration of those particular lines were improper or the data required for a particular information was not captured.

Besides, he said government would refer to operators that failed to co-operate as saboteurs.

Government is not joking about this security issue. Any plan from any angle, including from the operators, would be referred to as sabotage if they fail to co-operate as required.

There is a situation under which some people are committing crimes claim to be registered. Before now, we don’t have a critical database capturing information about Nigerians.

The SIM registration exercise was a foundation to capture huge numbers of Nigerians in terms of biometrics.

Meanwhile, the Association of Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has appealed to the affected subscribers, stressing that they were not cut off from their respective networks deliberately.

Speaking with The Guardian, the Chairman of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, said the purpose of the whole process was to get everything right.

Adebayo said telecommunications operators would co-operate with NCC to get a proper database in place for the country, especially to be able to guard against the increasing security threat in the country.

The ALTON boss, who said the whole blame should not be passed to the mobile network operators alone, noted that identification issue is about all government agencies, stressing that there is need for more collaboration in the country.

Speaking also on Channels TV yesterday on what the affected subscribers should do, the President of the National Association of Telecommunications Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS), Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, said: “They need to first of all complain to their network provider as stated by NCC but in this case of being barred, you have to go physically to the network provider.

That is sad, giving an extra threat to the unfortunate subscribers. But thereafter, if not satisfied, then you can call the magic number, 622. Hopefully they would react to it.”

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