NCC’s Axe on Mobile Networks

Eugene Juwah, Executive Vice-Chairman, NCC
Eugene Juwah, Executive Vice-Chairman, NCC

The Nigerian Communications Commission fines telecommunications operators for contravening its pre-registration of SIM card guidelines

By Maureen Chigbo  |  May 20, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

THE Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, on Wednesday, May 8, wielded the big stick on four mobile service providers fining them a total of N53 million for contravening the provisions on pre-registration of SIM Cards in Nigeria. The fine is in furtherance of NCC’s ongoing enforcement of the provisions of the Telephone Subscribers Registration Regulations 2011.

A breakdown of the fines shows that MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd will pay N29, 200,000 for contravention on 146 pre-registered SIM Cards, Globacom Ltd, N11,000,000 on 55 pre-registered SIM Cards, Emerging Markets Telecommunications Service Ltd, EMTS,  Etisalat, N5,000,000  for contravention on 25 pre-registered SIM Cards while Airtel Nigeria Networks Ltd is to pay N8, 600, 000 for the availability of 43 pre-registered SIM Cards during the exercise.

The fines imposed are based on the number of fully activated new SIM Cards that were either reported to the NCC or purchased in compliance with the monitoring and enforcement exercises conducted by the Commission, and validated by the offending network. Each of such pre-registered SIMs found attracts a penalty of N200,000.

Ubale Maska

The NCC gave the service providers seven days within which to pay the fine, failure of which attracts N500,000 for any additional day that the contravention persists. The Commission in the notice of sanction to the service providers signed by Josephine Amuwa, director, Legal and Regulatory Services, and Ubale Maska, director, Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement, said the fine was in exercise of its discretionary powers following prior warnings in April 2012, that Network Service Providers would be liable for breaches by their Registration Centres carrying out pre-registration of the New SIM Cards for sales, since it is the providers that activate these new SIM Cards.

“Based on the report of enforcement exercises against hawkers, agents and backend suppliers of fully activated pre-registered New SIM Cards in the year 2012, and first quarter of 2013, it has been established that there is an urgent need to sanction all network operators who have not complied with the directive,” the NCC said.

It reminded the service providers that it had, at the commencement of the SIM registration exercise project, instructed that all new SIM Cards going into the distribution and sales channels must only be activated as “receive only” with a proviso that all such cards can only call emergency numbers and operators’ call centres for a period of 30 days, failure to register such SIM Cards thereafter will render such SIM Cards inactive.

In a press release signed by Reuben Muoka, head, media and public relations, the NCC said the general public has been severally informed that it is illegal to sell or purchase pre-registered SIM Cards, and that anyone buying or selling pre-registered SIM cards shall be prosecuted and such person or person(s) shall be liable to any crimes committed with the use of such lines.

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