Friday, October 31, 2014

Fraudulent Sim Registration Agents On The Prowl

The Subscriber Identity Module registration exercise initiated by the Nigerian Communications Commission in 2011 has been hijacked by fake agents who also demand money from innocent subscribers before getting them ‘register’, National Mirror gathered yesterday.

It was learnt that following the indefinite extension of the registration of existing telecoms subscribers and the continuous registration of new SIMs, some agents registering subscribers have started taking advantage of the public by charging subscribers minimum of N100 per SIM card.

Further findings also revealed that some accredited SIM registration agents working for a particular telecoms firm disguise to register for all networks.

Explaining the new antics of the SIM registration agents to make illegal money, one of the victims explained: “I went to Iyana Ipaja Bridge in Lagos to register a SIM card for my daughter.

I had tried some other agents around who told me they only register for other networks and not Glo.

Later, I came across another agent, who told me he registers all networks. “The agent claimed that they now charge N100 for SIM registration.

Though, I didn’t want to offer money because I know personally that the SIM registration is free, but because I was in a hurry, I asked him to register it and that I would pay him the money.

“But I became suspicious as he was punching the keyboard and I had to move round to his side to see what he was typing, only then did I realise that what he had on his system was Airtel software for registration and not Glo.

That was how I got his ploy and challenged him, collected back my SIM and left.”

Another subscriber, Mr. Olawunyi Olayinka, a resident of Ojodu area of Lagos State, also disclosed a similar experience to National Mirror.

According to Olayinka, some SIM registration agents now indulge in wanton extortion from unsuspecting subscribers.

“They will tell you the operators have asked them to be charging telecoms subscribers for the registration and since there is nowhere to confirm their claim, many people would just give the money to the agent, especially when the individual who want his or her SIM card registered is in a haste to continue with their daily business routines.”

President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, Chief Deolu Ogunbanjo, who decried the development also called for a re-accreditation and reorientation of the SIM registration agents by their principals, the telecoms firms, while also urging the Nigerian Communications Commission, telecoms industry regulator, to design measures for dealing with such fake agents.

“There is a need for concerted efforts so that at the end of the day, some unscrupulous elements would not make a ruse of the exercise because of their selfish interests.

Measure should be taken to sift the wheat from the shafts and for the operators and the regulator to begin public awareness to let the public be aware and report cases of any agent demanding money for the registration,” he said.

Ogunbanjo said the latest development, if not checked, was capable of rendering the eventual database a ruse.

However, the President of the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria, Mr. Lanre Ajayi, has absolved telecoms companies of the illegal act by some SIM registration agents.

“As we all know, no operator is collecting any money for the SIM registration exercise, In fact, the operators have spent more money than you can ever imagined in driving the process through various freebies given in promos to ensure that subscribers participate in the free exercise.

Those who are charging should be dealt with because the exercise is free,” he said.

NCC Spokesman, Mr. Reuben Muoka, also insisted that the commission had all along been vigilant of activities of some unscrupulous elements capable of discrediting the credibility of the exercise, noting that NCC would spare no efforts to bring the culprits to book.

According to him, “The registration is free and we want Nigerians to be aware of this.

NCC and the operators are not asking the agents to collect any charges from the subscribers before they register them.”

While asking members of the public not to pay any money to the registration agents, when such money is demanded, he stressed that the “SIM registration exercise is free.”

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