The four operators were fined different sums of money.
The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, on Thursday imposed various sanctions on four mobile communications services operators for contravening the provisions on pre-registration of SIM Cards in Nigeria.
The Commission named the affected operators as Airtel Nigeria Networks Limited, Etisalat Nigeria Limited, Globacom Nigeria Limited and MTN Nigeria Communications Limited; adding that the sanctions were in furtherance of the ongoing enforcement of the provisions of the Telephone Subscribers Registration Regulations 2011.
The Commission said the sanctions are based on the number of fully activated new SIM Cards that were either reported by customers, or purchased during various compliance monitoring and enforcement exercises conducted by the Commission, and validated by the offending network.
With each of such pre-registered SIMs found attracting a penalty of N200,000, Airtel Nigeria is to pay a N8.6million fine for 43 pre-registered SIM Cards during the exercise, while Etisalat is liable to a fine of N5million, for having 25 pre-registered SIM Cards and Globacom, N11miilion for a similar offence on 55 pre-registered SIM Cards. MTN Nigeria is to pay N29.2million for contravening the law on 146 pre-registered SIM Cards.
All four service providers were given seven days ultimatum to pay the fine, or face further sanctions of N500,000 for any additional day the fine is not paid.
In the notice of sanctions to the service providers by the Director, Legal and Regulatory Services, Josephine Amuwa, and Director, Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement, Ubale Maska, the Commission said the fine is pursuant to its discretionary powers.
Ms. Maska said the commission’s actions follow prior warnings in April 2012 that network service providers would be held liable for breaches by their registration centres carrying out pre-registration of the new SIM cards for sales.
“Based on the report of enforcement exercises against hawkers, agents and backend suppliers of fully activated pre-registered new SIM cards in the year 2012, and first quarter of 2013, it has been established that there is an urgent need to sanction all Network operators who have not complied with the Direction” the Commission said.
The Commission reminded all service providers that at the commencement of the SIM Registration exercise project it had instructed that all new SIM cards going into the distribution and sales channels must only be activated as “receive only” with a proviso that all such cards can only call emergency numbers and operators’ call centres for a period of 30 days, as failure to register such SIM cards thereafter would render them inactive.
“The general public has been informed severally that it is illegal to sell or purchase pre-registered SIM Cards, and that anyone buying or selling pre-registered SIM cards shall be prosecuted and such person or person(s) shall be liable to any crimes committed with the use of such lines,” the Commission said.
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