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NCC clamps down on pre-registered SIM card sellers

The Nigerian Communications Commission says it has arrested sellers of pre-registered Subscriber Identification Module cards in Lagos.

A statement from the telecom regulator on Sunday stated that arrests were made at the Computer Village, Orile, Alaba and Saka Tinubu markets in partnership with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps during a three-day comprehensive enforcement.

The Head of Enforcement Unit at the commission, Mr Salisu Abdu, said the latest enforcement was largely informed by a security report from the office of the National Security Adviser about the prevalence of pre-registered SIM cards at some locations in Lagos.

However, he expressed satisfaction that the trend had reduced considerably when compared with what obtained in the past few years.

“We visited the Computer village; we visited markets in Ikorodu; and we visited one in Bariga with the objective of identifying where this sale of pre-registered SIM cards is ongoing. Fortunate enough, it is only in Computer village we were able to buy only one Airtel SIM card from a mobile agent.”

On the second day of the intensive exercise, the statement said the apprehended suspects engaging in the illicit activity were taken to the Lagos Command of the NSCDC for interrogation.

“At Alaba Market, we purchased a pre-registered SIM card from an agent, a Globacom agent; and in Orile, we found pre-registered SIM cards with a market woman who, in fact, was seated with a lot of SIM cards being sold to members of the public. It is that same cards that criminals are using to commit a lot of crime and you can now understand why it had sometimes been difficult for security operatives in the course of their investigations of criminal offences to identify people who have actually committed such crimes.”

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On the last day of the raid of phone markets in Lagos, the NCC said the enforcement was concentrated largely on the Saka Tinubu market in Victoria Island where two more persons who were found selling pre-registered SIM cards were picked up by the combined team of the NSCDC and the NCC officials.

While speaking on the commission’s next line of action, Abdu said “Investigations would first be carried out by the NSCDC who accompanied the enforcement team during the exercise. We have to get to the root as to where they are getting the pre-registered SIM cards.”

When asked if there could be any involvement of some service providers in the pre-registered SIM card scam, Abdu said, “They are, in some respect, because we have been trying to inform them that most of these challenges are coming from registration agents. So, we try as much as possible to warm them to ensure that they check their registration agents. At the end of the day, whichever SIM card we find on the street, we’ll sanction them as well. Even in this case, we will look into all the SIM cards we recovered and ensure that we apply necessary sanctions on the mobile operators.”

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