Nigerian operators told to cut off 73m customers in security move

EFCC Nigeria.jpg

Operators in Nigeria have blocked access to 73 million customers, in a security clamp-down by the federal government.

The move, says the government, aims to curb insecurity, extortion and kidnapping.

The Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC, pictured) has insisted that all SIM cards must be linked to national identity numbers (NINs).

EFCC chairman Abdulrasheed Bawa said the identification of telecom subscribers would help the federal government combat fraudsters and cybercriminals. He also said the identification will improve national security and citizens’ access to government digital services.

The telecoms regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), said: “Over 125 million SIMs have had their NINs submitted for immediate linkage, verification, and authentication. Similarly, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has issued over 78 million unique NINs to date.”

But operators have been told to partially block the 73 million SIM cards that are not linked to digital IDs, meaning their users will no longer be able to make phone calls until further notice.

Subscribers whose lines have been partially blocked will first have to be identified before mobile operators will lift the restriction on their lines, says the Ecofin news agency. Already 125 million sims have their NINs submitted for immediate linking, verification and authentication, while approximately 73 million SIM cards are yet to do so.

The Nigerian government’s decision comes a few days after the closure of the latest telecom subscriber identification campaign. Launched in December 2020, the campaign was extended several times following protests by clients who usually claim the delays are too short.