The leadership of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has proposed a fine of N200,000 for telecommunications companies that fail to verify and validate the National Identity Number (NIN) and other personal information of subscribers.
This proposal is contained in a draft regulation on registration of telephone subscribers 2021 published on NCC’s website.
It is currently mandatory for phone users in Nigeria to link their lines with their NINs to reduce the usage of telephone for criminal acts.
A deadline was fixed to cut off those who failed to integrate their lines with their Subcriber Identity Module (SIM).
The deadline was shifted when crowds of people turned up at the various registration centres, increasing the risks of compounding the Covid-19 crisis. The deadline has been shifted several times since the first extension.
January 19, 2021 was the initial deadline, but it was moved to February 9, April 6, May 6, June 30, July 26 and now October 31.
Section 19 of the draft document requires mobile network operators to ensure that NINs are verified and validated before activation.
It prescribes a penalty of N200,000 for those who breach the requirement.
A similar penalty has been proposed for telcos that fail to register subscribers with the central database as well as those who activate subscriptions without appropriate registration of such subscribers.
“Any licensee who fails to capture, or who preregisters, register, deregister or transmit the details of any individual or corporate subscribers to the Central Database as specified in these Regulations or as may be stipulated from time to time by the Commission is liable to a penalty of N200,000.00 for each subscription medium,” the draft reads.
“A licensee who activates any Subscription Medium without capturing, registering and transmitting the personal information to the Central Database commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine of N200,000.00 for each unregistered activated Subscription Medium.
“A Licensee who fails to verify and validate biometric, NIN and other personal information before activation is liable to a penalty of N200, 000 for each subscription medium in breach of these requirements.”
All the major operators, Globacom, MTN, Airtel and 9Mobile have been fined before for infractions in connection with subscriber registration.
MTN has been the worst hit, as it got a fine of N1.04 trillion for not deactivating 5.1 million unregistered lines.
The fine was later reduced to N330 billion with a condition that MTN would list on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). The operator has met this condition.