Registered SIM cards - The SIM card registration exercise has entered the verification stage, said the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). Speaking as a guest in a television programme in Lagos, the commission's Director for Public Affairs, Tony Ojobo, disclosed that the verification process had commenced.
According to Ojobo, the verification exercise precedes number portability, which is designed to 'enable GSM subscribers switch to a different network provider while still maintaining the same phone number.'
Another senior staff member of the commission, who spoke with THISDAY said that it was true that the exercise has entered its verification stage after the process of SIM collection and harmonisation.
'I understand that the commission set the number portability to be launched this month and the first quarter of the year. So yes, I can authoritatively tell you that the registration process has entered the verification stage.'
The SIM registration exercise initiated by the NCC at the peak of the kidnapping and general insecurity challenges in the country as a way to checkmate the alarming rate of crime, began in May 2010.
A total of N6.1billion was earmarked by the commission for the project, which most Nigerians saw as a welcome development, and got the approval of the National Assembly.
Welcomed with mixed reactions, the exercise was almost immediately riddled with series of scandals and had the commission appear before the House of Representatives to absolve itself of any wrongdoing.
Clarifying issues of allegations related to the mismanagement of the money by the commission, the source referred to the probe by the House of Representatives and how the commission was absolved of any wrongdoing.
'If you recall, when series of allegation arose that the NCC had mismanaged the money meant for the exercise, the commission went there and tendered its side of the story before the lawmakers who found no fault in how the money was being expended.'
On the issue of operators not having access to the commission's database, he said: 'The exercise was designed such that no operator can have access to the database of the commission, because it would compromise the integrity of the whole exercise, which is security.'
Speaking on why the SIM registration exercise has taken this long to come to a close, the source said: 'After the digital collection of the database, the process of harmonising and cleansing was begun. The numbers of SIM card registration that were initially collected was 100million, at a time when the active subscription was about 97million.
'Because of this volume, caused by multiple cases of double registration, the operators found the process of collation tough, and it took a long while for them to upload the information to NCC backings. When this was done, we also discovered mismatching, and the process continued.
'It was during this process that the probe by the House of Representatives began, which forced us to discontinue the harmonisation exercise until the commission was absolved by the House Committee of any crime.
'So SIM card registration is almost coming to an end because, the last process is the verification stage. That tells you that cleansing has been done, everything has been tested and ready for number portability.'
By Ojo Maduekwe