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NIN-SIM Linkage: To What End?

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Yet again, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has directed telecommunication companies to extend the disconnection of telephone lines not linked to National Identification Number [NIN] from April 15, 2024, to July 31, 2024. According to a recent report, this extension is for those who have four SIMs linked to just one phone line.

When the initial deadline of February 28, 2024 expired, the industry regulator informed the nation that about 40 million lines not linked to NIN have been barred since the commencement of the compulsory registration and linkage in December 2020. We recall that on December 16, 2020, the federal government mandated the SIM-NIN linkage, which it said was meant to address insecurity in the country by helping the authorities track down bandits and terrorists.

The exercise involves validating a person’s NIN with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and matching the subscriber’s NIN records with the SIM registration information to ensure proper subscriber identification.

Available data indicate that there are 224.7 million active mobile telephone lines in the country. Also, NIMC claims that 104 million NIN have so far been issued. While lauding the advantages of the NIN- SIM policy, this newspaper notes that this policy is beginning to be exploited by questionable characters who audaciously use it to carry out their nefarious intents thereby blurring the envisaged collective good of all.
It is sad to note that even with the policy in place, criminals seem to be circumventing it because insecurity is expanding by the day with the security agencies barely able to control it to the discomfiture of ordinary Nigerians who have to bear the brunt of the social malaise.

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Though Nigeria has been battling kidnapping for more than a decade, the situation is now more troubling than ever as kidnappers have become more daring with the security agencies not able to trace the numbers so as to nab the perpetrators of the heinous act.
It is obvious that the linkage policy has not checked the activities of criminals as over 380 persons were kidnapped between December 1, 2023, and January 3, 2024, across Nigeria. The victims were taken hostage at various events that happened during the last month of 2023 and the first week of the new year, illustrating the escalating number of kidnapping cases in the country and the near ineffectiveness of the policy.

There have been multiple records of kidnappings over the last six months while the Police have remained incapacitated in taking prompt action to determine the whereabouts of the victims just as their captors use mostly linked numbers to call their relations and demand ransom.
However, we admit that there have been instances where the linkage policy yielded good results as the security agencies were able to trace the calls. But these are few and far between.
Our worry stems from the reality that the nagging security situation persists despite huge budgetary allocation and the cost of implementing the linkage policy both for the service providers and the consumers.

We recall that last year, the budgeted expenditure for defence was N1.55 trillion, which was among the highest sectorally and in the 2024 budget, defence and security got 3.25 trillion, representing 12 per cent of the N27 trillion budget.
It is sad to observe that with these generous budgetary provisions, the Nigeria Police claims that its inability to track calls emanating from crime scenes was due to unavailability of tracking devices. If this is the true position, then it is, in our view, a yardstick for measuring the seriousness or lack of it in the search for ways to check the impunity of criminals.

It is equally disturbing that a key tracking equipment owned by the police has remained inactive since the beginning of the year amid raging violent crimes across the country. Nigerians will appreciate it if the Force could reactivate it or offer a plausible reason for the non-effectiveness of the all-important technological device.

With the full complement of NIN-SIM policy, we consider it a national embarrassment that the issue of capability, poor intelligence gathering and inadequate comprehensive security operation have continued to be excuses by security agencies not to fully track and neutralise these enemies of society.

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Still, we are persuaded to argue that the security agencies require enough resources, human and material as well as modern and up-to-date technological facilities to effectively tackle the challenge of insecurity in the country. More importantly, the agencies should intensify their liaison with network providers to ensure that these kidnappers are tracked to their hideouts and dispassionately extirpated.

In our view, the service providers know where the calls are from and tracking those calls ought not to be rocket science. All that is required is for the intelligent units of the security agencies to do more and collaborate with them for meaningful results to be achieved.



Source link: Leadership

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