Nigeria Communications Commission(NCC), says it will transfer all the data collected from Nigerians during the SIM card registration exercise to the National Identity Management Commission(NIMC).
Head, Public Affairs and Protocol of NCC, Reuben Muoka, said neither the telecommunications operators nor the Commission was empowered by law to store or manage citizens’ data as it has varied security implications.
“There is no citizenship data and the telecom operators have no rights to collect those biometric data and keep,” he said. “They are supposed to give it to the government. The data base is going to NIMC because it is the only institution authorised to have citizenship data. We will only do a bridge. The data will be managed until one dies.”
Mouka told LEADERSHIP that SIM registration has closed officially, but that the Commission had provided a window period for all those that missed the exercise to register and warned that the registration may be closed unannounced at an unspecified date.
Telecommunication consumers can approach any of the registration centres and register since the harmonisation is within a limited period. “This is the time. We cannot give them a date and once it closes it has closed.”
Justifying NCC’s investment in the exercise, Mouka stated that SIM card registration was an emergency response to an emergency situation which came to the commission through security agencies.
The commission according to him was fully aware that in other climes it is the operators that do SIM card registration, but there are also few countries where government has supported SIM Card registration.
“ It is an emergency situation that needs to be arrested just like the current security issues in Nigeria. The process of NCC coming into this is by invitation of both national assembly and the stakeholders to come and assist to arrest the situation going beyond normal. There are certain peculiarities that brought NCC into the fray. Ordinarily in other countries operators rely on citizenship register, what they need is just to include a number in ones database. Nigeria does not have citizenship register in the first place so Nigeria is not like other countries.” he said.
“ Secondly, it was not the operators primary economic project. The current telecoms act does not force operators to register and the operators are now saying that they need three and half years to do sim registration,” he said.