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Frenzied crowds, extortions soar at NIN enrollment centres ahead of October 31 deadline

Crowds at Various NIN Enrollment Centres in Nigeria Collage Photo: TVCNews

*As the National Identity Number (NIN) and Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards integration deadline approaches, huge crowds, slow process, extortions, and frustrations have intensified at several NIN registration centres across Nigeria

*Telecoms consumers, groups seek further extension of NIN-SIM integration for two additional months

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Cashing in on the fast-approaching Sunday, October 31, 2021 deadline for the National Identity Number (NIN) and Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards integration, frenzied scenarios have resurfaced and intensified at several NIN registration centres across Nigeria.

ConsumerConnect had reported the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) stated that the cutoff date remains unchanged.

The West African country’s telecoms sector regulator said that the relevant authorities would also deny any Nigerians without NINs the opportunity of acquiring driving licences and international passports henceforth.

RELATED: NCC Sensitises Telecoms Consumers On NIN-SIM Integration Before Oct 31 Deadline

Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director of Public Affairs at NCC, disclosed this development via a statement issued September 29, 2021, and titled ‘NIN-SIM Integration: NCC sensitises telecoms consumers on October 31 Deadline’.

The NCC Director of Public Affairs stated: “NCC has reminded and urged telecoms consumers to link their NINs with their SIMs before the expiration of the deadline of October 31, 2021, set by the Federal Government.

“Speaking during the live programme, Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, advised Nigerians to make use of the extension of the NIN-SIM integration exercise to October 31, 2021, to enrol with NIMC, get their NINs and link them to their SIMs.”

RELATED: Nigeria Extends NIN-SIM Verification Deadline To October 31

According to Dr. Adinde, in a little while, Nigerians without NINs “will be denied of necessary services that play vital roles in their lives, including acquisition of driving licences, passports.”

The statement also noted regarding “the benefits of the NIN-SIM integration, the exercise will significantly enhance national security as NIN is the primary identity for Nigerians.

“In line with Federal Government’s commitment to ensuring that Nigeria deploys technology to improve service delivery, the NIN-SIM database will enhance citizens’ access to government services.”

Mr. Efosa Idehen, Director of Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB) of NCC, in his remarks on the issue while speaking on the radio show, stressed the importance of NIN-SIM integration, and said “those SIMs without unique identification could be used to commit crimes that remain untraceable.”

Slow process, extortions, frustrations resurface at NIN enrollment centres at Telcos

Checks indicated that even registration agents at some designated centres of the telecommunications firms’ sales outlets and National Identification Management Commission (NIMC) centres, have continued to extort Nigerians waiting to get registered.

ConsumerConnect reports that long before the current October 31 deadline, several consumers had complained that they were being asked at most NIN registration centres to part with several amounts of money, ranging from N500 to N1, 500 in Lagos, and other cities in the country over the past months.

This is coming on the heels of similar reports that some staff of NIMC, the regulatory Commission for national identity management, were purportedly selling the NIN registration forms for N500 each to residents in Benue State of Nigeria.

But the NIMC has continued to warn that it will not condone corrupt acts that will tarnish its image in this regard.

Recent visits to some of the service outlets, including those of Airtel, Globacom and MTN Nigeria, also confirmed the return of crowds and extortion of between N2,000 and N3,000 per applicant for the service, The Guardian report said.

It was gathered at Airtel service outlets along Okota and Isolo Road in Lagos State, the agents, who gave their names as Bridget and Temidayo, claimed that the N2,000 was the NIN registration fee.

READ ALSO: Nigerians Urged To Visit NIMC Offices To Validate BVN-Generated NINs

Subscribers in large numbers were seen waiting to be captured and registered.

One of the agents, Bridget, when queried that the NIN registration ought to be free, said, “the order to collect money is from above.”

ConsumerConnect investigation also showed that it was confusion galore at the Globacom Office located on Allen Ikeja Road as subscribers, usually, are kept waiting for several hours after writing down their names for either fresh NIN enrollment or registration, NIN-SIM integration or SIM card upgrade to 4G network.

Most of them complained profusely about the apparently slow process in the Customer Sevice section of the office.

Engr. Aliyu Aziz, Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of NIMC (right)

Mr. Yinka Akintolu, a telecoms subscriber, who disclosed to ConsumerConnect that he had been to the same Globacom office, at Allen-Ikeja, for SIM card replacement four times but to no avail, said he had been unable to conclude his NIN-SIM integration despite getting there early and writing down his name to be attended to each time of the four times.

Likewise, at the MTN office, Fatai Atere Road, Mushin, also in Lagos, report noted though not overcrowded, subscribers experienced some delays because there were issues relating to the confirmation of some Bank Verification Numbers (BVNs), especially those that start with 221/222.

Report indicated that some frustrated subscribers were seen sleeping while waiting for their turns.

One of the telecoms subscribers, Ngozi Nwangu, claimed that she got to the MTN office as early as 7: 00a.m. to link her NIN with SIM, said that several other subscribers, out of sheer frustration returned home due to network hitches, report stated.

Nwangu was quoted to have said: “At 3: 00p.m., I am still here waiting for the BVN network to come up so that it can be confirmed and my SIM can be subsequently linked to the NIN, but there are issues with that. I still don’t know how long I am going to be here.”

Whereas at the MTN Opebi office, there were crowds, they were attended to in an orderly manner.

Also at the Globacom office on Airport Road, in Lagos, subscribers were seen waiting to be captured and registered adequately, according to report.

Telecoms subscribers, interest groups appeal for extension of deadline

As Sunday, October 31 deadline for the NIN-SIM integration in Nigeria approaches, Majeed Dahiru, a Public Affairs analyst, has urged the Federal Government and the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to urgently address the overwhelming reports of extortion of NIN applicants across the country.

Telecoms consumers in Nigeria

In a broadcast, Dahiru reportedly noted that extortions of Nigerian consumers at the NIN enrollment centres were not surprising, but the government ought to have put in place emergency measures against some NIMC officials perpetrating frauds at such centres, report said.

The telecoms subscriber also appealed to the NIMC Management and the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to eliminate all forms of corruption going on in NIN registration across the country.

Underscoring the importance of accurate data in the planning and development of Nigeria, he stated that corruption was undermining the process of NIN-SIM registration and integration respectively.

Dahiru added: “Extortion of citizens is a huge compromise on our national security. And I had expected an emergency measure to curb this menace.

“It is a menace; we may not know the full implications today until a little later when the negative impact of this issue begins to manifest in our national security negatively.

“It has national security implications for Nigeria. We are talking about national identity, SIM card registration, obtaining a Nigerian passport.

“Now, if the officials involved are only after money, it means anybody can come into Nigeria through any of our porous borders, play the necessary game, and obtain anything that makes and certifies him as a Nigerian citizen.”

In the same vein, the National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS), in Nigeria, has called for a two-month extension of the NIN-SIM linkage exercise.

Chief Adeolu Ogunbanjo, President of NATCOMS, said extension beyond October 31, would allow for the full implementation of the security policy, report stated.

The NATCOMS President noted the extension would also enable those areas where telecoms services have been shut down to also have a chance to get registered.

Chief Ogunbanjo said: “We have been at it for close to one year now. They started by giving a six-week deadline, and on and on till March, then June, and now October 31.

“In view of the current security situation, which necessitated the policy, we want the deadline to be extended to the end of the year, so that from January 1, there won’t be any excuse.

“But I also would like a situation where subscribers should take advantage of the remaining days left in this window.”

Ogunbanjo, who also confirmed the return of crowds at NIN registration centres NIN, stressed that they are now jam-packed because the deadline is about to expire in days.

“Unfortunately, the centres are now jam-packed. I was at one on Friday. Another two months won’t be bad.

“We are pleading for a two-month extension (November and December), so that full implementation of the security policy can start in January,” stated he.

Meanwhile, efforts at reaching Mr. Kayode Adegoke, Head of Corporate Communications at NIMC, to comment on the development, were unsuccessful as of press time, report noted.

NIMC says ‘NIN enrolment is free’

Recall that earlier this year, the National Identity Management Commission had informed Nigerian consumers, that the enrolment for the National Identification Numbers is free in the country.

ConsumerConnect had reported NIMC also warned those illegally taking advantage of the ongoing NIN registration nationwide to desist as they risk seven years in jail, if caught.

RELATED: Nigerians Urged To Visit NIMC Offices To Validate BVN-Generated NINs

In a notice on its corporate Web site and other social media platforms, the national identity management regulator encouraged Nigerians to report cases of extortion for onward prosecution.

According to the titled, ‘NIN Enrolment Is Free’, “the punishment for extortion if convicted is seven years imprisonment as stipulated in Sections 14, 20, & 21, of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission Act and Sections 10 & 12 of the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act.”

The regulatory Commission March 2021 also warned that it would not condone corrupt acts that would tarnish its image.

Engr. Aliyu Aziz, Director-General/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NIMC, in a statement by the Commission’s Spokesman, said this while declaring that the Commission has ‘zero tolerance’ for corruption, fraudulent activities in the process of enrolment and other activities.

RELATED: NIMC Alerts Nigerians To NIN, National e-ID Card Frauds

THe NIMC Director-General stated: “The Commission, recently, suspended some staff and terminated the appointment of a few others who engaged in acts of extortion and unwholesome practices detrimental to its values.

“We call on the general public to desist from being enablers of extortion as it would not condone any act capable of destroying its hard-earned integrity.

“Remember, enrolment for the National Identification Number (NIN) is free.”

The Commission also urged the general public to report any form of extortion and unwholesome practices through its official platforms by calling 08157691214; 09134959433; send e-mail to actu@nimc.gov.ng; or lodge complaints via its corporate Web site at: www.nimc.gov.ng.

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