The Federal Government has said it will meet with telecommunication companies to find a way forward after a court ordered the government not to block sim cards not linked to the National Identity Numbers by April 6.
Recall that on Wednesday, a Federal High Court in Lagos State had barred the government from blocking SIM cards not linked to NINs in April.
Officials of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy as well as operators in the telecommunications space confirmed to our correspondent that the government was making progress with the NIN enrollments and its linking to SIM cards.
They also stated that the recent court order barring the Federal Government from blocking SIM cards not linked to NINs in April would be considered in a meeting that would hold before the expiration of the April 6, 2021 deadline.
A former second National Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association and human rights lawyer, Monday Ubani, had filed an originating motion and asked the court to stop the Nigerian Communications Commission from disconnecting all SIM cards not linked to NINs.
The first to fourth defendants in the suit include the Federal Government, Attorney General of the Federation, the NCC and the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy.
“These are issues that will be addressed in the meeting that will come up before the April 6 deadline,” an official of the communications ministry, who pleaded not to be named, said.
The planned meeting was further confirmed by the President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, Ikechukwu Nnamani.
He also stated that the communications minister would make public the decision of government on the April 6 deadline soon.
Nnamani said, “The minister will make a determination on it when it gets close to the time. There will be an implementation review meeting just before the due date to ascertain if it is necessary to extend the time.
“However, we encourage everyone to go and get their NIN and not assume it will be extended.”
On December 15, 2020, the Federal Government declared that after December 30, 2020, all SIMs that were not registered with valid NINs on the network of telecommunications companies would be blocked.
It later extended the December 30, 2020 deadline following widespread opposition against the earlier announcement and gave three weeks’ extension for subscribers with NIN from December 30, 2020 to January 19, 2021.
It also gave six weeks’ extension for subscribers without NIN from December 30, 2020 to February 9, 2021.
But many organisations called for further deadline extension or outright suspension of the NIN registration process due to the large crowds who had yet to get their NINs.
On February 2, 2021, the government listened to the deadline extension call and shifted it to April 6.