The Executive Director of Native Consortium and Research Center, (NCRC) Edmund Abu, has noted that the deadline set for the deactivation of subscribers who fail to re register their Sim cards for the National Identification Number (NIN- SIM), integration, would be unrealistic.
The National Telecommunication Commission (NaTCom), issued out a release on October 7th, demanding that sim card holders should register their Sims in order to get a NIN-SIM integration which will help to curb the circulation of unregistered Sims and cybercrime. The deadline given for reregistration was November 30th, 2022, and that subscribers who fail to do so will get their Sims deactivated.
According to Mr Abu, the drive to curb cyber security is a welcome one but that the deadline issued by NaTCom for subscribers that have already registered multiple times, will be a double jeopardy, which indicates the failure of NaTCom to regulate Mobile companies.
He said, should NaTCom proceeds with that action; the consortium will be left with no option but to start a fresh lawsuit against NaTCom.
” The Consortium firstly roundly welcomes the NIN-SIM integration process and will always work with NaTCom to get this right. Until NATCOM takes the lead in this by rising to the occasion and thinking outside the box, any attempt to deactivate genuine subscribers who have registered before, will be met with litigation from the Consortium” he said.
He stated that, that was one of the reasons they frog matched NATCOM along with Africell and Orange, because the 300 plaintiffs that took the matter to Justice Fisher 5 years ago and till date, strongly believes that NATCOM has failed and/or breached its statutory obligation to regulate Mobile companies and protect consumers.
He explained that they presented compelling evidence on the threats of toxic proliferation of unregistered sims before Justice Fisher, which serves as vehicle for cybercrimes and simbox fraud, which suspected subscribers have suffered from and some have been insulted without any trace.
” So our support to this National Security threat is solid and unwavering” he stated.
However, Mr Abu stated that the Consortium totally condemns damage control approach to please the President with that unrealistic timeline to deactivate genuine subscribers who have been registered, at minimum, twice previously, but failed to follow the application within the stated timeline.
He said the call is total assault and a double jeopardy that NATCOM wants to inflict on those unsuspected subcribers, adding that it was not done within the frameworks of any section within the Telecommunication Act No.9 of 2006 as amended.
He stated that the consortium has been giving several warnings to NATCOM on the toxic proliferation of unregistered Sims and the threat they pose to national security but never listened.
He said fighting cybercrime everywhere in the world is not an event but a process that one cannot get right that way.
” Sierra Leonean subscribers have registered more than two times in the last seven years, yet still Mobile Operators are issuing new generation of unregistered Sims even after seeing these directives. Native Consortium has made repeated calls that mobile operators are making billions of leones from the insurance of unregistered Sims in circulation because the National Revenue Authority has no way to collect taxes from them. The reregistration app can not be understood by many illiterate uncle in the village who cannot read and write and without an android phone.” He said.
He said the MNOs therefore need to spend money to find a way of reaching out to those subscribers through direct calls or any means with NATCOM taking the lead to integrate the Sims to NIN.
He opined that, alternatively NATCOM could hire a third party expert firm to conduct an audit on Sim cards in circulation and if any MNO is found wanting, they should suffer punitive penalties and not the innocent subscribers who have taken the pains to register multiple times