Subscribers must explain need for new mobile lines – Minister

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Existing subscribers to telecommunications services who want new telephone lines must be made to explain why they need the lines, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has said.

Pantami said this while inaugurating the new chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission governing board in Abuja on Thursday.

He said the NCC would have to determine the number of mobile phone lines that could be used by an individual in the country.

The minister said henceforth, individuals who already had phone lines must be made to explain why they were requesting new SIM cards.

The Federal Government had recently directed the NCC to revise the policy on SIM card registration and usage.

The revision will involve making the National Identity Number a compulsory requirement for registration of new SIM cards, and restriction of the number of mobile phone lines for individuals.

Pantami, had while issuing the directive on February 5, suggested that an individual should not have more than three mobile phone lines.

However, addressing members of the governing board and management of the Commission on Thursday, he explained that the actual number of mobile phone lines per individual had not been determined.

Pantami explained that the decision to review the policy on SIM card registration and usage was informed by issues raised by the security agencies, following the deactivation of unregistered SIM cards.

He said NCC would determine whether the number of mobile phone lines that could be used by an individual should be three, or more, or less.

According to him, it was recently discovered that one subscriber registered 57 SIM cards, all bearing his name, from the same network.

Noting that the development posed security challenges, the minister said, “In many nations, when you have one SIM card, if you need another one, you must provide justification for that.

“We should make it flexible. If there is need for more, there should be justification.”

Stressing that NCC had a major role in addressing insecurity in the country, Pantami said, “We should not allow criminals to use the sector that is under our supervision to commit crime.”

The minister also told the new NCC board that there was a need for improvements in the regulation of the sector.

The new board chairman, Prof. Adeolu Akande, who replaced Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, said the commission was committed to the campaign against insecurity in the country.

Earlier, at a CyberSecurity Conference organised by the NCC in Abuja, Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, had called for the deployment of technical and legislative measures to strengthen ICT infrastructure against cyberattacks.

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