House of Representatives has initiated the probing of the N6.1 Billion budgeted to Nigeria Communications Commission,NCC to enable compulsory SIM card registration between it and the various telecoms providers.
The House yesterday asked the NCC to account for the N6.1bn approved for it by the Federal Government for Subscriber Identity Module, SIM, registration.
This came on the heels of the $5.2bn (N1.4trn) fine imposed on MTN for failing to meet the August deadline it was given to disconnect millions of its unregistered subscribers.
Oluwole Oke (PDP/Osun), had brought a motion in which he claimed that as at December 2014, about 45 per cent of SIM cards on mobile networks were invalid due to non-registration or improper registration.
According to Oke, a breakdown of unregistered SIM cards shows MTN with 18.6 million, Airtel 7.4 million, Glo 2.33 million and Etisalat 9.46 million.
Oke said: “The assiduous efforts of our hard working security agents to tackle incessant and sustain cases of insurgents and kidnappers may be attributable to the non-deactivation of lines still being warehoused by criminals.
“This condition may worsen and prevent the achievement of the deadline to tackle insurgency and other forms of insecurity in Nigeria.
“MTN has not denied that the regulator had not variously served the telecommunication companies similar directives at the same time, while the others seemed to have complied, MTN, driven by pecuniary profit consideration at the expense of our collective security, has ignored the directive, leading to the imposition of fine.”
Minority Leader, Leo Ogor, contributing to the debate, called for an inquest into how NCC spent the N6.1bn it got for SIM card registration.
Ogor said: “Let me appeal to the committee handling this investigation to be mindful of the billions of naira budgeted for the registration of SIM cards as given to the NCC.
“I am aware that this House in the 7th Assembly appropriated over N6bn for the purpose of registering SIM cards and the funds were released. The NCC should explain what it did with that money now that we are still having issues of unregistered subscribers.
“So, let them go beyond the telecom providers and also look at the role of the regulator itself, which claimed over N6.1bn for the purpose of generating a data base of subscribers.”
When the motion was put to a voice vote by Deputy Speaker, Lasun Yussuf, who presided, it was unanimously approved and subsequently referred to the Committee on Telecommunication.
A report is expected within three weeks.