FG Meets with Telcos, Others Over Court Ruling on SIM Blocking Deadline

Federal Ministry Of Communications & Digital Economy

Sequel to a Federal High Court’s recent judgement halting the government from blocking SIM cards not linked to National Identity Numbers by April 6, the Federal Government (FG) will be meeting with telecommunications operators and other key stakeholders in the sector.

Officials of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy as well as operators in the telecommunications space stated that the recent court order barring the Federal Government from blocking SIM cards not linked to NINs in April would be considered in a meeting that would hold before the expiration of the April 6, 2021 deadline. They also confirmed that the government was making progress with the NIN enrolments and its linking to SIM cards.

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A former second National Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association and human rights lawyer, Monday Ubani, had filed an originating motion and asked the court to stop the Nigerian Communications Commission from disconnecting all SIM cards not linked to NINs. The first to fourth defendants in the suit include the Federal Government, Attorney General of the Federation, the NCC and the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy.

The planned meeting was further confirmed by the President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, Ikechukwu Nnamani.

Nnamani stated that the communications minister would make public the decision of government on the April 6 deadline soon.

He said, “The minister will make a determination on it when it gets close to the time. There will be an implementation review meeting just before the due date to ascertain if it is necessary to extend the time.

“However, we encourage everyone to go and get their NIN and not assume it will be extended.”

It would be recalled that the Federal Government announced on December 15, 2020 that after December 30, 2020, all SIMs that were not registered with valid NINs on the network of telecommunications companies would be blocked.

Following the widespread opposition against this a was later extended the December 30, 2020 deadline was extended to January 19, 2021 for subscribers with NIN, while subscribers without NIN were given up to February 9, 2021.

Many organisations called for further deadline extension or outright suspension of the NIN registration process due to the large crowds who had yet to get their NINs. On February 2, 2021, the government listened to the deadline extension call and shifted it to April 6.