The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Patami, had on Wednesday, December 16 announced a two-week deadline for Nigerians to link their National Identification Number (NIN) to their SIM cards or risk getting their phone numbers deactivated by mobile network operators.
The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has the mandate to establish, own, operate, maintain and manage the National Identity Database in Nigeria, register persons covered by the Act, assign a Unique National Identification Number (NIN) and issue General Multi-Purpose Cards (GMPC) to those who are citizens of Nigeria.
It was therefore not surprising that the announcement was followed by pandemonium at NIMC registration centres across the contry as Nigerians rushed to register for or verify their NIN. NIMC’s Alausa, Lagos office was shut down on Monday after photos that went on social media showed a massive crowd with no regard for COVID-19 protocols.
Our correspondent who visited the Local Governemnt Coucil, Ikeja and Alausa, Ikeja NIMC offices discovered that offcials of NIMC took an undue advantage of the situation as only those who paid N5000 were attended to even as others struggled and fought for the attention of the officials.
This is in clear violation of NIMC’s directive which states that enrollement for NIN is free. “Enrollment is free. Card issuance is free. NIN is free.” is the inscription pasted at various NIMC offices across the country
A source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said “I and my aunt got the information from a friend that we can register today and get the slip immediately without queuing with other people but we are to pay the sum of N5000 collect it.
“She gave me the number of a man to call and his name to mention when I get to the gate of the office. When we got to the Local Government Council, Ikeja there were a lot of people outside struggling to enter but when I mentioned the name of the person, they allowed us to enter the premises and we were offered a seat.
“The man who ushered us in told us that those waiting outside might not be able to register today and even if they do, they might not collect their slips today, but we are getting ours today.
“After paying N10,000 for my aunt and I, we got the enrollment form and after few hours we got our slip, but people were still outside fighting and struggling to enter. We weren’t the only one paying the N5000 , other people came in the process of waiting and the rest were outside, she said”
Femi and Bayo also got their registration done at Local Governemnt Council, Ikeja and they told An24.net that they had to pay N10,000 to comfortably get their NIN slips.
“We are both paying ten thousand Naira to get ours. We can’t come back again for it. The crowd is too much and with the rising cases of COVID-19, one has to be careful. We pay the money and sit comfortably to get our slip while people struggle outside”.
At the Alausa NIMC office, many of those who spoke to our correspondent complained that they had been waiting outside and were not allowed to enter but noticed movement in and out of the the offices as a select few were attended to.
A businessman who spoke to An24.net said “I am a businessman and I don’t think I have the time to queue and struggle to get my NIMC slip, that’s why I am paying the N5000 to register and get my slip instantly.”
” I can’t fight and people are too much outside, it is better to pay and get immediately to avoid stress,” he said.