The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has announced plans to deactivate over 42 million inactive mobile numbers starting February 28, 2024.
This move is part of the government’s efforts to enforce the integration policy of Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards into the National Identification Numbers (NIN) database, initiated in December 2020 to address rising insecurity and kidnapping incidents in the country.
Initially, the government had set deadlines for linking SIM cards with NIN, with multiple extensions due to public pressure and a significant number of unlinked SIMs. However, on April 4, 2022, telecommunication firms were directed to block only outgoing calls on unlinked lines.
According to recent reports, the NCC has now decided to fully implement the policy announced in 2020. In December 2023, the NCC sent a letter to mobile network operators affirming the federal government’s directive to deactivate unlinked lines by February 28, 2024, despite pleas from telecom operators regarding the large number of lines yet to be linked with NINs.
Sources within the NCC revealed that approximately 45 million lines in the country will be affected by the deactivation, out of which 42 million have remained inactive for over a year, with no outgoing calls, data sessions, or SMS messages recorded. Only around 3 million active lines will be impacted by the deactivation.
A source from the NCC stated, “These 42 million lines have been inactive for over a year. So essentially, from our system checks only about 3 million active lines would be barred. We expect that the users of these lines would come out to submit their NIN and unbar their lines or abandon the lines entirely.”
The move aims to encourage compliance with the NIN-SIM integration policy and ensure the security of communication channels in the country.