The Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) Gbenga Adebayo has announced that subscribers with National Identification Numbers can now replace their lost or damaged SIM at any of the customer centres across the country. He made this disclosure in a statement titled ‘ALTON’s Update on SIM Registration and NIN Integration’ signed by ALTON Chairman, Gbenga Adebayo and Publicity Secretary, Damian Udeh.
Subscribers with lost or damaged SIM cards had been complaining of the challenges they had been experiencing difficulties to get SIM swaps. The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, had instructed the telecoms industry regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission, to stop the sale of SIM cards in Nigeria pending an audit of the SIM registration database.
Omolola Adedeji, an MTN subscriber she had been unable to communicate since her SIM card got damaged, even though her National Identification Number was linked to the line. She said, “My SIM card spoilt, now MTN is saying I cannot retrieve my line because of NCC regulation. They should have at least considered cases like lost or stolen phones and given exceptions to line retrieval.
“Why will you direct telecom companies not to replace or sell SIM cards for people that have NIN. Must everything be this difficult? This is not proper but no one can question the Nigerian government.”
Glo subscriber, Uchenna Onyeyiri, also lamented, “This is my only line and I use it for work and everything else. How am I meant to contact my clients? How is anyone meant to contact me? And they’re telling me that it is the order from the government. Does that sound reasonable?”
ALTON stated that it had recognised the challenges experienced by customers that sought to replace or upgrade their SIM cards following the suspension of sale and activation of SIM cards. The statement said, “We empathise with people who have been unable to reactivate their phone lines as a result of the suspension.
“Further to engagements with government on the matter, we are pleased to report that our members have been granted permission to carry out SIM replacement upon verification of the customer’s NIN.”
ALTON assured the public that their members were working with the National Identity Management Commission to ensure seamless system connectivity for verification of NINs.
The operators urged subscribers to be patient as they worked with all stakeholders towards speedy resolution of issues affecting SIM registration/swap and activation, promising to restore normal services as soon as possible.
In a related development, Globacom said it has unveiled three additional update options available for its customers to link their phone numbers to their NIN.
“Firstly, they can simply text their NIN to 109. Alternatively, they may dial *109# or *109*your NIN# directly. Customers can also call 109 to update their NIN via voice call”, it said in a statement released on Wednesday.
The telco explained that the four options were meant to further simplify the NIN update process for subscribers and help the government achieve a more secure and reliable data base.
It advised customers who did not have their NINs to dial *346# to retrieve the number if they had already registered with the NIMC, and called on those without a NIN to visit any NIN enrollment centre to get one.