Some telecommunications subscribers have expressed displeasure over the barring of their lines by telcos, despite having linked their National Identification Numbers with their SIM cards.
The subscribers on Wednesday, January 17, 2024, expressed their displeasure in separate interviews in Lagos.
Telecommunications (Telcos) operators in Nigeria, including MTN, Airtel, and Globacom among others, had been directed by their regulatory body, the Nigerian Communications Commission to implement full network barring on all phone lines for which subscribers had not submitted their NINs and those without verified NINs by February 28, 2024.
The NCC said further that NINs that had been submitted but not verified, such lines were to be barred on or before March 29, 2024, same as in cases where five or more lines are linked to an unverified NIN.
Similarly, where less than five lines are linked to an unverified NIN such lines are to be barred on or before April 15, 2024.
In an interview in Lagos on Tuesday with some of the telcos customer service centres, it was noticed that some subscribers visited the telcos outlets to complain that their lines were barred. Most of the subscribers were seen at MTN customer service outlets.
The subscribers were displeased that their lines had been barred from making calls even before the February 28 deadline.
Some of them insisted that they had already linked their NINs to their SIM cards as directed by the NCC, so were surprised that their lines were still barred.
A businessman, Marcel Okoh, said that a message was sent to his MTN line at the weekend which he did not take seriously because he had done his NIN-SIM linkage.
Mr Okoh said that two days after the message was sent, he noticed that his SIM had been disconnected and could no longer recharge or make calls with his phone.
He said, “The disconnection is uncalled for because I have done the needful and I should have been given time to make enquiries.’’
Similarly, a cloth designer, Aisha Alao, who also uses an MTN line, said that she was disconnected by the telco without any notice.
Ms Alao said that it was when she got to one of the MTN outlets that the agents explained to her that she needed to do a NIN-SIM linkage.
Also speaking, a retired teacher, Veronica Maduabunechukwu, said that a disconnection notice was sent to her by Airtel, despite having done her NIN-SIM linkage.
“The line has not been disconnected and I see no reason why it should be barred,’’ she stated.
Another MTN subscriber, Chinenye Agbanusi, said that she had done her NIN-SIM linkage as far back as 2020.
Agbanusi said that she was not pleased with MTN for barring her line after following due process.
She added that the telco should upgrade its systems, to avoid recurring issues of barring customers that had already done the needful.
A Globacom subscriber, Miss Kanyinsola Oje, said that a notice to link her SIM to NIN to avoid disconnection was also sent to her.
She noted that some days after the notice, her line was barred.
However, during the survey, Miss Nkechi, an agent in one of the Airtel outlets in Ketu, Lagos, said that subscribers had been coming to the centre to make complaints about their SIM being disconnected.
Similarly, Olumide, a Globacom agent in Ketu, also confirmed that subscribers had been coming to the outlet to make complaints about their lines being barred since December 2023.
According to him, most of the subscribers insisted that they had done the NIN-SIM linkage before but were currently having issues.
Mr Olumide said, “The reason for the disconnection could be that the name the subscriber used in registering for their NIN is different from what they used to register their SIM. Another issue could be that the line was reassigned to another subscriber, so the name on the SIM could still be the name of the previous owner.
Reacting to the subscribers’ complaints, Senior Manager, External relations, MTN, Funsho Aina, said that most of the lines that were barred were because no data were found on the lines.
Mr Aina said that it was possible that the subscribers had done the NIN-SIM linkage, but the data filed for NIN might not be the same as what they registered for their SIM.
He said that a discrepancy in data filed for NIN and for SIM could affect its collation.
“Take for instance, I register my SIM with Funsho, and in registering for the NIN I use Olufunsho, which is also my name. Even if I do the NIN-SIM linkage, in collating by the telco, the technology might not be able to link the names to one person and the line would be disconnected until the discrepancy is corrected,” he said.
Mr Aina, however, said in order to correct such discrepancies and be reconnected, there were self-help steps that could be taken.
He urged subscribers to go to the portal: https://nin.mtn.ng/nin, to create a Virtual NIN (VNIN).
“You can also dial *996*3# on your mobile phone.
“Select option three for Virtual NIN, Enter your NIN to proceed, then enter ‘109071’ as your Enterprise ID.
“Or alternatively, dial *346*3*your 11 digit NIN*109071# to create a VNIN,” Aina said.
The MTN official also explained that it seemed as if MTN subscribers were more affected, because MTN had a large number of subscribers than other telcos.