The Ministry of communications has lifted its months-long ban on fresh registrations for SIM cards, saying issuance of new mobile subscriptions would resume on Monday.
“The implementation of the policy will commence on Monday, 19th of April 2021. The issuance of new SIMs and other suspended activities will resume on the same date, as long as verification is done and the guidelines are fully adhered to,” it said.
The Ministry announced the ban four months ago, saying the exercise was necessary as part of efforts attempt to curb insecurity in the country.
Telecoms operators were also directed to block subscribers who failed to link their SIM cards to their national identity numbers.
There are nearly 200 million mobile phones in use in Nigeria — a statistical average of around one per person.
The government argues that registering the phones will help to tackle insecurity and build a unified database.
In 2015, Africa’s biggest wireless operator MTN was sanctioned after failing to disconnect 5.1 million subscribers in Nigeria, over concerns the lines were being used by Boko Haram insurgents.
However, the Minister of Communications, Isa Pantami has himself been enmeshed in controversy related to his past sermons as a Muslim cleric in which he glorified actions of islamist terrorist groups.
Pantami said the sudden focus on his actions – and a growing call for him to be fired – was a result of his decision to sanitize the communications sector and his insistence that anyone that a seeks a phone line must be registered for a National Identity Number.