The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, have arrested 14 persons in the North Central States of Benue, Kogi and Niger for the illegal sale and distribution of pre-registered SIM Cards.
The combined team of NCC officials and law enforcements agencies had embarked on an enforcement action over week in the region thereby leading to the arrest.
In Markudi, the Benue State capital, five persons were arrested in Wurukum and Modern Markets, while another two were nabbed in Lokoja, Kogi State capital.
Head of Enforcement of NCC, Mr. Efosa Idehen who led the team to Markurdi, said the Commission is determined to ensure that there will be no hiding place for anyone engaged in the sale or distribution of pre-registered SIM card in the country.
Minna, the capital of Niger State recorded the highest number of arrests in the zone as seven persons were arrested in different locations in the state capital in an enforcement exercise led Mr. Salihu Abdu, a Principal Manager in the enforcement unit of the Commission .
The suspects, who were caught with bags of pre-registered SIM cards were later handed over to the police for further investigations.
While some of the arrested suspects claimed they were not aware of the illegality of their actions, some others said they are aware that it is illegal but that they get their supplies from authorized dealers of some of the telecom networks.
The arrests of the suspects in Minna became dramatic when some of the suspects made futile attempts to escape after arrest while some resisted arrests, realizing their imminent ordeals of their offense.
Abdu disclosed that the SIM cards found with the suspects were discovered to be in the call and receive mode when they were inserted into a mobile phone stressing that the procedure is that new SIM Cards are expected to remain in their packs until they are detached, and inserted on phones to be on receive mode until they are registered.
He noted the investigation conducted by the NCC team showed that the cards which were still in their packs when inserted into the phones, began to make and receive calls, an indication that they have been pre-registered.
He said it is dangerous for anybody to patronize those selling pre-registered SIM cards as such persons may not know the identity of the person who was used to register such cards.
He added that those whose identities were being used to register such cards are vulnerable as they will be held responsible for any crimes committed with such numbers.
Sales, distribution or use of pre-registered SIM Cards, often referred to as “Active SIM Cards”, are liable to criminal investigation, prosecution, fine and imprisonment.
The Commissioned had since April, 2012 embarked on renewed massive awareness campaign and enforcement action across the country over the sales and distribution of pre-registered SIM Cards across the country, an action that is forbidden by the regulation guiding the concluding SIM Cards registration in the country.
Several arrests have already been made by the Commission, in collaboration with the law enforcement agencies while the suspects are being charged to court.