The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has declared that mobile subscribers in Nigeria must submit their International Mobile Equipment Identity, IMEI, of their phones from July.

The NCC directive is contained in the revised national identity policy for SIM card registration which was released on May 11.

According to the policy, the directive would be implemented within three months.

The NCC said: “It is expected to curtail the counterfeit mobile phone market, discourage mobile phone theft, enhance national security, protect consumer interest, increase revenue generation for the government, reduce rate of kidnapping, mitigate the use of stolen phones for crime, and facilitate blocking or tracing of stolen mobile phones and other smart devices.

The NCC said: “It is expected to curtail the counterfeit mobile phone market, discourage mobile phone theft, enhance national security, protect consumer interest, increase revenue generation for the government, reduce rate of kidnapping, mitigate the use of stolen phones for crime, and facilitate blocking or tracing of stolen mobile phones and other smart devices.

“His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has directed that the device management system should be implemented within three months.

 “IMEIs that have been reported as either stolen or illegal will be shared through the DMS to all the operators and service providers.

“The purpose is to ensure that such devices do not work even if different SIM cards are inserted in those devices.

“DMS will also provide access to all operators to cross-check the IMEIs and their status before allowing a device to become active on their network.

“Furthermore, registered mobile phone technicians will also be provided with an interface to check IMEIs and ensure it has not been reported as stolen or illegal before they render their technical services,” the directive said.

The IMEI is a 15-digit number that serves as an electronic fingerprint transmitted every time a phone is used, which reveals the identity of the mobile handset.

They are independent of phone numbers and are usually stamped beneath the battery on the back of the handset.

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