Nigeria’s government has ordered the country’s mobile operators to block SIM cards from making outgoing calls if they have not been registered to their user’s National Identity Number (NIN).
After numerous delays, the final deadline for Nigerians to link their SIM cards to their NIN was set at 31st March 2022, although the government offered stragglers a four-day grace period after this elapsed.
CommsUpdate reports that the call block subsequently came into effect at midnight on 4th April, with local news outlets including Leadership and the Independent reporting that “around 73 million” SIMs had been affected.
Ahead of the call block, Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami warned that operators must “strictly enforce the policy on all SIMs issued (existing and new) in Nigeria. Outgoing calls will subsequently be barred for telephone lines that have not complied with the NIN-SIM linkage policy.”
“Subscribers of such lines are hereby advised to link their SIMs to their NINs before the telcos can lift the restriction on their lines. Affected individuals are hereby advised to register for their NINs at designated centres and thereafter link the NINs to their SIMs through the channels provided by [the National Identity Management Commission] NIMC and the telcos, including the NIMC mobile app.”
The ministry issued a joint statement with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) stating that “over 125 million SIMs have had their NINs submitted for immediate linkage, verification and authentication”, with more than 78 million unique NINs issued to date by the NIMC.