Telecom operators in Ghana seem to be fishing in troubled waters and if nothing is done quickly by the National Communication Authority (NCA) and the Ministry of Communication to correct the blunders and win back the people’s trust, the act of ‘fraud and conspiracy’ in SIM card registration may eventually ruin the nation’s investment in curbing crime.
Reasons being that hawkers and agents of SIM cards recruited by the various telecom operators have succeeded in taking advantage of the loopholes in the exercise and are selling pre-registered SIM cards to end users without capturing their true bio-data as prescribed by law.
The Al-Hajj can authoritatively report that the level of collusion between telecom operators registration agents and subscribers has assumed such an alarming proportion, agents now provide voters ID codes for prospective new SIM card owners, a development the Director-General of the National Communication Authority, Mr. Paarock Vanpercy said has come to their attention but are helpless to act due to a law suit filed against the authority on the verification of SIM card register by civil society group, IMANI Ghana.
Several weeks of intensive investigations by The Al-Hajj into the activities of SIM card registration and Mobile Number Portability indicate that, registration agents now have a list of valid voters ID codes of duly registered voters and are using it to register people without their IDs.
Aside this illegal act, the agents pre-register some SIM cards using fake bio-data together with the ID codes at their disposal sell it on the streets to those who need SIM cards but don’t have any ID card, especially foreigners and fraudsters.
Meaning, one ID code is being used by the agents to register different shades of people with different names, dates of birth and residential address, a practice that run counter to the Electronic Communication Act, Act 775, 2008 which regulates the exercise.
Jaw-dropping and eye-popping experience as this may be, The Al-Hajj uncovered that a registered agent at Kaneshie, a suburb of Accra, whose name was given only as Micheal has in stock eleven voters ID numbers of people that he uses to register numbers for subscribers without any form of identity.
For the avoidance of doubt, these are the voters ID numbers Micheal alone has; 15597654DC, 63174077, 17995980CJ, 24020807ED, 17214108 and 19935745FF.
The others include 74263708, 17178814, 62292196, 17139330 and 18107979.
The NCA was involved in SIM registration exercise last two years because of the increasing rate of crimes in the country. Fraudsters used the mobile phones as a means of communication in perpetrating crimes.
Also, NCA wanted to develop a central data management system of all telecoms subscribers, to enable security agents make use of such data in fighting crimes and easily identifying perpetrators of such crimes.
The lack of subscriber identification database has far-reaching security implications and is being exploited by unscrupulous individuals aided by the telecos to perpetrate crime and illegal activities in the country.
However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the registration agents have succeeded in bastardizing the noble exercise and the various purposes of which the exercise was meant to achieve has been thrown to the dogs.
For instance, Micheal (the registration agent at Kaneshie) registered this Vodafone number; 0508541164 and 0508541191 with the names of Mildred Asante and Arnold Attipoe respectively by this reporter without any form of identification.
Our investigation prove that the use of other people’s ID codes to activate SIM cards to new subscribers is a strategy adopted by the agents to sell lots of cards in order t make money.
The NCA on Febuary 6, 2012 released a report which indicated that of all the ID cards submitted for verification that year, 5, 580, 875 came out as registered with invalid ID cards.
But for the lawsuit by IMANI Ghana restraining the NCA of verifying registered SIM cards, the Authority would have by now flashed SIM cards with invalid identities, said the Director General of the NCA, Paarock Vanpercy.
“We are fully aware that people are being registered with invalid IDs, but for now, we are unable to go on with the verification to flash those illegal numbers out of the system because of the lawsuit by IMANI.”
Source: A A Yara/Al-Hajj/Ghana
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