Nigeria has ordered the nation’s wireless companies to bar outgoing calls from phone numbers not linked to the national identity number in a bid to control extortions and abductions.
The rule will come into effect Monday, the National Communications Commission said in an e-mailed statement. President Muhammadu Buhari in December 2020 ordered all phone lines to be linked to an identity number to curb rising incidents of abductions in the country’s northern region.
Kidnappers usually call relatives of their victims with unregistered Sim cards, which authorities in Africa’s most populated nation are unable to trace. The latest rule will mean about 75 million phone lines that aren’t linked to the national identity number won’t be able to make calls.
Out of the nation’s 198 million phone connections, 125 million Sim cards had been verified and linked to 78 million unique national identity numbers, according to the commission’s statement.
MTN Group’s Nigerian unit is the largest operator with 75 million subscribers, giving it a market share of about 38%. Other major operators include billionaire Sunil Mittal-backed Airtel Africa and Globacom.