Throng Banking Halls and NIMC Offices as Deadline for NIN-Linked Accounts and SIMs Looms

Bank customers who have not linked their National Identity Number (NIN) with their bank accounts and telecom subscribers scrambling to link their NINs to SIM cards thronged various locations to meet the February 29, 2024 deadline set by regulatory directives, fearing that failure to comply would lead to their accounts being placed on Post No Debit.

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and telecommunications companies witnessed a surge in customers who were yet to complete the linkage process. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) had previously directed telecom operators, including Globacom, MTN, Airtel, and 9Mobile, to deactivate SIMs not linked to owners’ NINs on their networks by February 28.

Simultaneously, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) instructed banks and financial institutions to place a post-no-debit restriction on accounts and wallets lacking Bank Verification Number (BVN) and/or NIN. Some customers expressed frustration, noting that they had undergone the process before and were being forced to repeat it.

While certain banks assured customers who had initially opened accounts with their NIN or registered for BVN with their NIN that there was no need to revisit the process, others insisted that customers physically come in to link their NINs to their bank accounts. The tedious process and long queues prompted complaints from customers who believed that technological advancements could have enabled the linkage through banking apps.

Not all bank branches experienced heavy crowds, indicating varying levels of compliance and customer awareness. The policy of linking NINs to SIMs aims to enhance the integrity and transparency of SIM registration processes and consolidate the achievements of the exercise.

Telecom operators initiated the barring of lines not linked to NIN from making calls, prompting a rush at NIMC centres and telco outlets. Subscribers visited service centres to address linkage issues or complete the NIN-SIM linking process. Telecom consumers were reminded by Dr. Aminu Maida, the executive vice chairman/CEO of NCC, to submit their NINs to their respective service providers to complete the linking process, emphasizing the critical national security objective behind the directive. The NCC had directed telecommunication operators to deactivate phone lines not linked to NINs by February 28, 2024.

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