The telecoms sector regulator in Nigeria, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has arrested six men in Kano state north western part of the nation for possession and sale of hundreds of Pre-registered SIM cards which had been banned by the agency since 2O11.
The suspects were arrested in two separate raids carried out by the NCC Enforcement unit backed by security operatives in the GSM village located at the farm centre and the Yankura market in the metropolis.
The Head of the NCC Enforcement Unit Mallam Salisu Abdul said the sale of Pre registered Sim card is a criminal offence and the commission will continue to raid markets across the country until they are able to curtail it.
Abdul also said that Kidnapping and other criminal activities going on the country could be associated with the pre-registered SIM cards as they could easily be accessed and disposed without proper registration.
‘’We have carried out a raid, at the end of which we arrested six suspects in connection with the sale of pre-registered SIM card. It is a criminal offence to sell pre-registered SIM card. ‘’
‘’The NCC had issued a directive since 2011 that all SIM cards must be personally registered. However, you can go to the market now, buy as many sim cards as possible if you want, put it on your phone without personally registering the SIM card and carry out some telecom activities. You can make a call, you can do data.’’
‘’So, we take it very seriously, so we have to mop up all pre-registered SIM cards at the market and today, we are in Kano’’ Abdul explained.
He blamed the various agents of service providers who sell or give in large quantity such pre registered SIM cards to be sold to innocent Nigerians and criminals alike.
Abdul said high level intelligence was used to detect the dealers of the pre-registered SIM cards before their subsequent arrest.
‘’We have bought one from each of the suspects, we have tested and confirmed that those SIM cards are active and they are contrary to our regulation.’’
‘’Our mission is to find out how the dealers were able to acquire the pre-registered SIM cards, because when you register a SIM card and fail to carry out any activity with it within 48 hours, it should be reverted to inactive. But if you buy and register, that is proper registration.’’
‘’We don’t really know how they do it and that is the essence of the exercise. Probably, they are breaking the SIM card, put them in their phone, make calls and return it back to the case and sell,” Abdul stated.
He said the six suspects arrested will be handed over to the police for proper investigation and eventual prosecution and in addition to authenticating the sources of the SIM cards.
He added that similar operations are being carried out in Lagos, Abuja, Minna and now Kano, stressing that the raid will be a continuous one.
However, one of the arrested suspects Sagir Isah during an interview said that he does not sell pre-registred Sim cards, but is only a licensed dealer with Etsalat selling Etisalat SIM to prospective buyers with proper registration.