The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has ordered the suspension of the sales and activation of new SIM cards by telecom operators.
NCC in a statement on Wednesday said the suspension was to allow an audit of the Subscriber Registration Database.
The Director, Public Affairs at NCC, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, in a statement, added that it was absolutely necessary for operators to comply until the audit exercise had been concluded.
Adinde said the suspension was ordered by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami.
He said Pantami directed the commission to embark on an audit of the Subscriber Registration Database to fish out those whose registrations were not properly done.
But he said an exemption might be granted following approval from the Federal Government through the Commission.
He said the suspension became necessary in view of the preponderance of pre-registered SIMs with the attendant security implications associated with the use of the same to facilitate criminal activities.
Daily Trust had reported on Monday that recycled SIM cards flooded markets across the country.
This raised concerns about the possibility of the already registered SIM cards being used by kidnappers and other criminal elements to commit crimes.
Commenting, a telecom engineer, Olusola Teniola, said the suspension would not harm the telecom sector but that there would be no new subscribers.
He said, “The period of impact is Q4 2020 and December sees new seasonal activations that coincide with Christmas and New Year festivities.
“The forecast for the industry remains the same and the directive has no material impact on the industry numbers as teledensity suggests over saturation presence in current coverage areas and a maxing on Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) numbers due to restrictions on consumer spending and inflationary pressures”, he said.
But another analyst, Engr Badaru Lekan, said the suspension would impact on the revenue of the operators and also on the economy.
“Jobs would be lost, businesses would close shops, operators would lose money and the economic situation in the country would worsen as a result of all of these”, Badaru said.
The telecom operators declined to comment on the issue when Daily Trust sought their comments on the issue.
The Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) did not comment on the issue. ALTON chairman Engr Gbenga Adebayo, did not reply to the message sent to him.