In line with the federal government directive requiring Nigerian telecommunications companies to bar calls from unregistered phone lines, mobile telephony giant, MTN Nigeria, said it has suspended as many as 19 million mobile lines in the country.
Karl Toriola, MTN Nigeria chief executive disclosed this at the weekend in furtherance with the government ban on calls from such numbers which became effective from April 4.
But he told an analysts call that MTN has had up to 51 million of its Nigeria subscribers have their SIMs linked to their identification numbers.
Also on the call, MTN group chief financial officer said Nigeria is its biggest market, contributing about 35 percent of group revenues, and the blocking of unregistered numbers could have a small impact on group revenues.
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Toriola explained that a flare up in the security situation in Nigeria after last month’s train attack in Kaduna, northwest Nigeria, could have triggered the government’s decision.
Although the government did not give a reason for the timing, the policy viewed as one of the government’s efforts to tackle the challenges posed by Islamist insurgency and kidnappings.
Airtel, another multinational telecommunication operator in the country has already disclosed that the barring of lines could put as much as eight percent dent on its revenues in Nigeria.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) which regulates the industry had placed an order in 2020 for mobile phone providers to add their National Identity Number (NIN) – containing personal data identifying the user – to every SIM card registered in the country or block the SIMs.
The government had extended the registration deadline several times before the latest directive to bar calls from unregistered SIMs.