By Francis Lubega
Government has finally heed to the cries of Ugandans and extended the deadline of sim card registration from seven days that were ending on Thursday April 20th to May 19th a full month from the original ultimatum that was set by the Communications commission head Eng. Godfrey Mutabazi and the Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura.
Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda issued a letter on Wednesday April 19th directing Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to extend the verification to May 19, 2017. The Commission had ordered all phone users who had earlier registered their SIM cards to verify them using National Identity Numbers (NINs) obtained from National Identity Cards.
The ultimatum raised anxiety among Ugandans who had jammed at the National Identification Registration Authority (NIRA) headquarters in Kololo as well as other offices at districts to pick or register for national identity cards.
Uganda Law Society President Francis Gimara said the decision to extend the deadline puts Ugandans in a better position than where they had been during the seven-day ultimatum adding that they will use this time to engage government and iron out other issues we raised in our letter,” he said.
The issues raised in the April 13th letter include a request that government fast-track the process of passing the Data Protection Bill 2015 and crafting a comprehensive law to govern SIM card registration.
The high court civil division assistant registrar Joy Kabagye who was meant deliver a ruling in an application filed by Trumped Rights Limited and Jobless Brotherhood founder Norman Tumuhimbise challenging the seven-day ultimatum, did not do so because of the government’s decision to give citizens more time to verify their SIM cards.
Tumuhimbise thanked Dr Rugunda for taking action, noting, however, that this was the opposite of what the prime minister had said the previous day.
Airtel Uganda managing director Anwar Soussa says one month extension is enough time for Ugandans to register and verify their SIM cards.
The former Primer of Buganda Daniel Muliika accused the Inspector General of Police over what he called knee jerk actions that have always cost government insisting that for the Uganda Police to regain its professional standards President Museveni must give General Kayihura another assignment other than police.