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The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta has said the commission has deactivated about 2.2 million improperly registered SIM cards across the country. Prof. Danbatta made the disclosure in a statement signed by the Director of Public Affairs, Dr Henry Nkemadu, saying the deactivation was in line with the President Muhammadu Buhari's agenda to strengthen security in the country.

He said, "We have since initiated the second phase of SIM deactivation based on the Ministerial directive and as at today, we have completely deactivated the remaining 2.2 million lines on the networks."

"This is contrary to reports by a section of the media, suggesting that nothing has been done with respect to the issue of improperly registered SIM cards."

"Following the September 2019 Ministerial directive, however, the NCC, within a week, intensified efforts by reducing the number of improperly registered SIM cards from 9.2 million to 2.2 million," he added.

The EVC said the deactivation was to ensure that all registered SIM cards across telecommunication networks had valid and traceable data.

He added that the exercise was enhanced by the Minister's directive to block improperly registered SIM cards.

"As at the time the Ministerial order was issued, the Commission, through its Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement team, had reduced the number of improperly-registered SIM cards on mobile networks in the country to 9.2 million."

Prof. Danbatta further explained that NCC also partnered the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to ensure accurate and clean SIM database audit exercise.

"The audit was specifically to ensure strict adherence by telecom operators to the provisions of the Telephone Subscribers Registration Regulations 2011," he said.

He assured stakeholders that the commission is working towards achieving the national objectives of providing an accurate database of phone subscribers in the country for a developed and secured nation.

"I also use this opportunity to restate the Commission’s commitment to the periodic SIM data audit, continuous compliance monitoring exercise on the MNOs, as well as constant consumer education and engagement against using improperly-registered SIM cards."

"We will be able to, collectively, address national security concerns, especially kidnappings, banditry, armed robberies, cattle rustling and other crimes associated with SIM cards across the nation," the EVC said.