Nigeria's ban on selling SIM cards to under 18 causes outcry

Proposal aims to protect minors, while parents, guardians can acquire SIM cards in their names on behalf of children

Ibrahim Garba Shuaibu   | 07.10.2021
Nigeria's ban on selling SIM cards to under 18 causes outcry

KANO, Nigeria 

The Nigerian Communications Commission said the country's ban on the ownership of SIM cards by those under 18 years old aims to protect them against legal liabilities.

Ikechukwu Adinde, the spokesperson of the commission, said in a statement on Thursday that the age limit on SIM card ownership for mobile phones is proposed in the draft regulation and contingent on the constitutional provision.

“We would like to draw the attention of the public to a publication in a section of the media, purporting that the Commission is developing a regulation to disqualify Nigerians below 18 years of age from getting Subscriber Identity Module (SIM),” the statement read.

“In accordance with sections 70 and 71 of the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003 and the Commission’s consultative engagement process, which define its rule-making process, the public inquiry was held for all relevant stakeholders to provide input on the draft regulatory instrument.

"... SIM acquisition is a contract between service providers and their subscribers, which requires the subscriber to have proper legal status, be of matured mind and rational enough to bear certain responsibilities, obligations and liabilities imposed by a contract," the commission statement also noted.

The Nigerian citizens expressed worry over the new policy which was said to have contravened the constitution of the country that guarantees the citizens' rights to freedom.

Bashir Mohammed, a social public analyst said: “Government actions need to be reviewed because this is unconstitutional. Nigerians have the right to own mobile phones."

Musa Abdullahi Sufi, a public health analyst, also viewed that the government action came at the right time because the underaged now used phones and learned some bad characters which are unbecoming but advised the government to act carefully.

“I am of the view that the government action of this SIM ownership is very important. Our children are now exposed to bad characters because of the use of mobile phones. It’s a welcome idea,” he added.

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