The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says it will shortly begin the second phase of its ongoing verification of Subscriber Identity Module registration data across all Mobile Network Operator platforms.
The Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said on Thursday that the commission would also carry out compliance audit of the registration processes.
Danbatta said in a statement that the process was to provide further assurance on the integrity of its SIM registration database.
He said that the audit was specifically to monitor operators’ strict adherence the NCC’s Telephone Subscribers Registration Regulations 2011 and the Technical Standards and Specifications issued by the commission in 2011.
According to him, the audit is without prejudice to the ongoing “backend verification and scrubbing” of SIM registration data already submitted to the commission by MNOs such as MTN, Glo, Airtel, 9Mobile and Mtel.
He said: “The NCC is very sensitive to the fact that the Subscriber Registration Database is a veritable tool being used by security and law enforcement agencies.
“The agencies use the database in the detection and apprehension of criminal elements involved in heinous crimes like kidnapping, financial crimes, armed robberies, banditry, cattle rustling and other crimes which leverage on easy access to the national telecommunications network.
“As such, we are determined to continue to ensure that all SIM cards are traceable to their real owners with the least effort.”
The EVC also said that the verification exercise was a continuation of the NCC’s consistent regulatory interventions to ensure a clean and credible SIM registration database.
He said that the effort started with the enactment of the Subscriber Registration Regulations and registration specifications in 2011.
Danbatta said that it was significantly ramped up in August 2015 when the MNOs were given a deadline to disconnect SIMs found not to be fully compliant with registration requirements, with the attendant consequences.
He said that the process continued with the setting up of a SIM Registration Task Force in 2017 to further harmonise registration practices across all networks.
The NCC boss said that it culminated in the recent establishment of joint Industry Working Group comprising senior representatives of the NCC, the National Identity Management Commission and MNOs.
He said that the Working Group was set up with the singular mandate of harmonising the subscriber registration process with the National Identity Card Registration Project.
According to him, currently, verification and scrubbing of SIM Registration data is ongoing, which is to ensure the integrity of data submitted to the commission by the MNOs, feeding the cleaned-up data to the central database warehoused by NIMC.
He said: “The audit is a natural next step to ensure that not only is the data already submitted fully compliant, but that operators maintain the highest standards of registration practices across all their touch-points.
“This is so that the subscriber data they are collecting continue to serve the national security and other interests for which subscriber registration was mandated.
“Everything we are doing is in accordance with global best practice – verification and audits are continuous exercises which the Commission has been engaging in since 2011 when subscriber registration formally commenced in Nigeria.
“Our objectives are to carry our quality assurance on the integrity of all aspects of the subscriber registration process and to demonstrate zero tolerance for any deviation from laid-down processes by any industry player, no matter how seemingly minor.
“Our expectations are very high indeed, considering the national security and socio-economic implications of the Subscriber Registration Database.”
The EVC allayed the fears of consumers, assuring that during this audit, there would be no disruption of service to law abiding consumers who had genuinely registered their SIMs.
He said that NCC was determined to aggressively pursue the national interest objectives of delivering a credible database of telecommunications subscribers in Nigeria.
He said: “This is why we are working with NIMC and other stakeholders to tighten all loose ends.
“We are determined to deliver one single, credible national citizen’s identity database which is sorely required to fast-track the attainment of the Federal Government’s national security and reform agenda.”