The house of representatives has asked the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to extend the deadline given to Nigerians to update their SIM card registration with their national identification number (NIN).
At Wednesday’s plenary session, the house asked the NCC to extend the two-week deadline it gave for the exercise to 10 weeks.
The communications agency on Tuesday asked telecommunications companies to block SIM cards not registered with NIN after two weeks.
The directive was based on the outcome of a meeting of key stakeholders in the communications industry as convened by Isa Ali Pantami, the minister of communications and digital economy.
The NCC said the submission of NIN by subscribers will be on until December 30, 2020, after which “all SIMs without NINs are to be blocked from the networks”.
The directive has been widely criticised by Nigerians, especially on social media.
Considering a motion by minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu, the house noted that though the initiative is laudable, the timing is “very wrong”.
“Nigerians have not been properly sensitised, as only a few educated persons who bother to read the dailies might have heard about this instructions,” the house said.
”Therefore, trying to enforce this policy in a period where most Nigerians are gearing up for Christmas festivities may lead to stampede in the process of rushing to get registered which could lead to unnecessary death and injuries.”
It said going ahead with the two-week deadline “will bring about untold hardship as millions of subscribers will be disconnected this yuletide period which could spell disaster in an already volatile nation like ours”.
“The house is worried that if the NCC is not urgently called to halt their plans there may be unnecessary panic in the country which may lead to exploitation of vulnerable Nigerian there by causing more pains in an already pathetic situation hence the need to urgently Wade into this impending crisis,” the motion added.
The lawmakers subsequently voted that the deadline be extended to 10 weeks and asked the committee on communications to ensure compliance.