There are so many stories of how to successfully track a stolen phone in Nigeria. If you go on the internet, the stories are rife. Many companies claim to have the right answer. They boast that once you have the IMEI of the stolen phone, they will be able to track the phone. I have done all that, yet I have not been able to track my stolen phone, lamented the retiree, Madam Esther Makinde.

Listening to the 67years old woman narrating her ordeal was quite heartbreaking. According to the retired civil servant living in Ikeja, she had gathered her widows mite and went to Konga shop at Otigba Street within the Computer village in Ikeja on May 15 2019. I reluctantly paid N31,300 for Techno Spark 3 because my grandchildren convinced me to buy that particular one. To me, it was quite expensive. I did not see any difference with it and a phone of N10,000 which price would have been better for me.

She continued: After payment, I requested they transfer all the details in my old phone except my sim cards to the new phone. Thereafter, I left for my home waiting for my grandchildren who will come visiting me in a weeks time to teach me how to use the phone.

Four days later, which was on the 19th of May, a Sunday, I went to church and came back to see that my house was burgled and my new phone stolen. I quickly went to the Police station to report the theft. The police officers followed me home to inspect and interrogate my neighbours. Unfortunately, my new phone and other bits and pieces were stolen. The police could not offer me help on how to find the stolen phone.

Narrating her ordeal further, Makinde said she went back the next day to Konga shop where she purchased the phone. I had the IMEI number of the phone so I had confidence that the staff at the shop would be of help. But they directed me to Carl Care Centre at Opebi Ikeja. After asking series of questions, they told me that the phone had been activated on the 24th of May, that is seven days after it was stolen from me. However, they apologised they would not be able to trace it even with the IMEI number.

Frustrated and tired, I left for home. I then started trying various advice from the internet. I even tried to make contact with the Lagos State Rapid Response Squad [RRS]. I am so disappointed that I have not been able to track a phone I lost since seven months now, despite all my efforts.

This is the story of many Nigerians.

Confirming the ordeal Makinde is currently going through, information from Trish Net Phone Tracking Portal said that though there are a number of applications and methods on phone tracking in Nigeria, that majority of those applications do not work except in few instances.

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They can only work when there is internet on the phone and when the application must have been installed and activated on the phone. It might interest you to note that accuracy is not up to 50%. If the new bearer of the phone can find the way to uninstall the app, you will lose trace of the phone. Not even Apple find my phone app is 70% accurate.

Investigations revealed many applications being advertised on the internet which boasts of recovering stolen or lost phone as My kids GP phone tracker, Cell phone location tracker, Mobile tracker for Android, Live mobile number tracker, Find my phone, GPs mobile number location finder, Anti theft mobile tracker and so on.

So what is the way forward? Investigations revealed that the best way and still the most reliable way of tracking lost or stolen phone in Nigeria is through the phone imei number. The phone imei number is a 15 digit unique code that identifies the phone. To get the code, dial *#06# on your phone and the code will be displayed.

If you are using a double SIM phone, the number will be two, copy it out and keep in case of a day like this whereby you misplace your phone or it is stolen.

However and unfortunately, for the mean time, private individuals are not allowed to track their phones using the imei number. Only security operatives are allowed to track phones in Nigeria provided you have the under-listed information.

  • A police report. This is to enable establish the fact that the phone actually belongs to you and not someone else.
  • The Imei number of the phone
  • You are to provide a phone number with which police can use to reach you
  • An active email address.

All about IMEI

You might have been used to the unique 15 digit number on the back case of your phone. Some manufacturers dont display the code externally, but for all devices you can view this code by dialing *606#.

This code is called IMEI which stands for International Mobile Equipment Identity.

The code is important to a certain degree in tracking lost phones. It is used by authorities to prevent the use of these stolen phone and possible track them.

How does the code come into all these?

The plain truth is that every time you use a phone with any network in it to make or receive a call, send or receive a message, its IMEI number is automatically emitted to the network provider.

In the event of changing the network/ sim, the same would be observed by the telecom provider. There are certain phones that come with dual Sim ports; these devices possess dual IMEI digits. Same also goes with ones that have triple ports.

The port in which a particular network is inserted has its unique IMEI and thats what would be transmitted upon initiation of calls or sms.

The IMEI is very important as you could see, and to find back your lost phone through its IMEI, it is compulsory that you had written down those digits.

If your phone has double ports (as its common these days) write down their different IMEIs.

To prevent against theft, you should be careful of where you place your phone. Recommended would have been certain apps but their effectiveness would depend on data connection and other things which a Nigerian wont likely fancy.

As always, to keep a phone from theft, you really need to keep it away from thieves. Please can someone come to Mrs. Esther Makindes rescue? To contact her, use the telephone numbers on this page or email Consumer Watch through the email address on this page.