By Funmilola Gboteku
Lagos – The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), says its awareness campaigns against the menace of pre-registered SIM cards, which has been a recurring trend in the country’s telecom sector is yielding results.
Mr Salisu Abdu, the Head, Enforcement Unit of the commission, made this known in a statement in Lagos on Sunday.
Abdu said that the commission had carried out a three-day comprehensive enforcement in some major markets in Lagos to fish out perpetrators of pre-registered SIM card.
He said that the latest enforcement exercise was largely informed by a report from the office of the National Security Adviser about the prevalence of pre-registered SIM cards at some locations in Lagos.
He said that the adviser however expressed some measure of satisfaction that the trend seemed to be on a downward trend when compared with what obtained few years ago.
“We visited computer village, some markets in Ikorodu and we also visited one in Bariga with the objective of identifying where the sale of pre-registered SIM cards is ongoing.
“Fortunately enough, it was only in computer village we were able to buy only one Airtel SIM card from a mobile agent.
“We appreciate the level of compliance in Lagos; it apparently means that there is adequate awareness campaign that people are now aware that the sale and buying of pre-registered SIM card is criminal,” he said.
Abdu said that the commission had addressed the media on the outcome of the outing at the Lagos Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), where some of the apprehended suspects were taken for interrogation.
“We went to two locations, Alaba International market and Orile market along Badagry expressway.
“At Alaba market, we purchased a pre-registered SIM card from an agent, a Globacom agent and in Orile we found pre-registered SIM cards on a market woman who, in fact, was seated with a lot of SIM cards being sold to members of the public.
“It is those same cards that criminals are using to commit a lot of crime and you can now understand why it had sometimes been difficult for security operatives in the course of their investigations of criminal offences to identify people who have actually committed such crimes,” Abdu said.
The enforcement official said that the last day of the raid of phone markets in Lagos was concentrated largely on the Saka Tinubu market in Victoria Island where two more persons who were found selling pre-registered SIM cards and were picked up by the combined team of NSCDC and NCC officials.
While speaking on the commission’s next line of action, Abdu said that investigations would first be carried out by the NSCDC, which accompanied the enforcement team during the exercise.
“We have to get to the root as to where they are getting the pre-registered SIM cards and I am sure the old woman and some of the persons arrested are not the ones doing the registration, there must be somebody who is supplying the SIM cards to them.
“We will need to find out the people who are behind it and we believe some of these challenges are coming from registration agents.
“So, we have been trying as much as possible to warn network operators to ensure that they checkmate their registration agents.
” We will also look into all the SIM cards we recovered in this exercise and ensure that we communicate necessary sanction to the mobile operators,” he said.
Abdu recalled that in 2017, the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta hosted a stakeholders’ meeting with telecom network providers at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja where he expressed displeasure at the persistence of improperly registered and pre-registered SIM cards.
Abdu said that the commission had subsequently launched a nationwide television commercial in major national television and local television networks in all the states of the federation in March to sensitise telecom subscribers on the dangers of pre-registered SIM cards.