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Informal agents undermined Nigerian SIM registration – Investigation

Daily Trust investigation showed that telecoms subscribers were subjected to hostility and extortion; and in some instances agents refused to take the picture of subscribers. Contrary to the directive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) that SIM registration should be at no cost to the subscribers, our reporter saw some of these agents, who operate in groups in markets and under the pedestrian bridges and other locations in Abuja, Lagos metropolis and other big cities extort N100 for each SIM card registered.

“If you want to register your SIM, you will pay N100. This is what we do here. If you cannot pay, please go and look for a place where you will register the SIM,” a young man who is an agent of one of the operators told our reporter in Abuja on Thursday.
Some of the agents also did not care to take correct data of subscribers as they rushed to beat June 30 deadline for close of registration.
In Lagos at the weekend, a lady was heard telling an agent that she did not know the name of her local government area and the agent simply put fill one her.  
Some of these agents were also aggressive such that at the slightest provocation, they resort to use of uncouth words on people who wish to register their SIM cards with them, especially those who dared to complain that names were not correctly spelt.
Because of this, some subscribers especially elderly were seen leaving queue in Ikotun area of Lagos when an agent resorted to abusive language.
Contrary to the specifications of the NCC, face shot capture of subscribers is rarely done. When it is done, it is done haphazardly with all manner of objects as background. “My face photo capture was done with the brand name of the competitor as background,” one subscriber said. An expert said this practice does not meet international requirements. “That is just an ordinary passport photograph. If you want to convert it into something that can be used to conduct face recognition, it is useless, the expert who pleaded anonymity because he works with operators told Daily Trust.
Last week, the Director of Public Affairs, NCC, Tony Ojobo, said any extorting money from subscribers was doing its principal a great disservice.
The SIM registration exercise started by NCC about two years ago and came to a close at the weekend.

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