Former Nigerian Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has voiced his apprehensions regarding the apparent underutilization of the NIN-SIM database by Nigerian security operatives in addressing the growing menace of kidnapping and other security challenges in the country.
Pantami’s remarks came on Sunday, following public scrutiny on social media regarding the efficacy of the NIN-SIM policy in the aftermath of the recent abduction of six girls in the Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, coupled with a demand for N60 million ransom by the kidnappers.
Having initiated the policy in December 2020, which mandated every mobile user to link their SIM with the National Identification Number (NIN), Pantami expressed concerns that the intended purpose of the policy is not being realized, raising questions about its effectiveness.
Responding to queries about why security operatives have not effectively used the NIN-SIM database to track kidnappers, Pantami emphasized that the policy has proven successful in the past. He stated:
“NIN-SIM policy has been working. However, the relevant institutions fighting criminality are to be requested to ensure they utilize it effectively when a crime is committed.”
Highlighting his frustration, Pantami revealed instances during his tenure where the policy was utilized successfully.
According to the former minister, “If it is not being utilized by the relevant institutions in charge of securing lives and property, then I am more frustrated than any person, as I sacrificed my life and ignored all the threats to life.”
As a background, Pantami announced the NIN-SIM linkage policy on December 9, 2020, with multiple deadline extensions until April 2022. The policy aimed to enhance national security by linking every mobile number to the NIN, facilitating easier tracking of kidnappers and terrorists through the database.
The rollout and impact of the NIN-SIM policy
Under this policy, numerous Nigerians faced the challenge of registering for the NIN, a process that posed difficulties at the time. Despite the hurdles, millions of unlinked mobile lines were restricted from making calls starting in April 2022.
Furthermore, as an extension of the policy, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) issued a recent directive in December of the preceding year, mandating mobile network operators to enforce complete network barring on all phone lines lacking subscribers’ national identification numbers (NINs) by February 28, 2024.
Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!