(Adds context, consequences for non-compliance)
LAGOS, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Nigeria has given telecommunication providers two weeks to add valid National Identification Numbers (NIN) to every SIM card registered in the country, according to a statement from the Nigeria Communications Commission.
All SIM cards without a NIN attached will be blocked from Dec. 30, the statement said.
Last week, the NCC barred telecommunications firms from selling new SIM cards while it conducted audits into rule compliance.
Adding the numbers to the some 200 million active mobile phone lines in two weeks is a daunting task, one made more difficult by the fact that not all Nigerians have a national identification number.
Nigeria created its SIM card registration rules in an attempt to stop terrorists and criminals from using unregistered SIMs. Rising insecurity has plagued the country in recent months; earlier on Tuesday, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for kidnapping hundreds of schoolboys in Katsina state, while late last month it killed scores of farmers in Borno state, beheading some of them.
The statement warned that any company violating the directive would “be met by stiff sanctions, including the possibility of withdrawal of operating license.” (Reporting By Libby George Editing by Chris Reese and Jonathan Oatis)