‘Stop NIN registration on SIM cards’ – SERAP urges Buhari 

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Factual Pursuit of Truth for Progress

 

By Francis Ogwo

‌President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to instruct the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami, and Director-General of the National Identity Management Commission, Mr Aliyu Abubakar to cease the promotion for the registration of Nigerians for National Identity Number and stop the threat to block SIM cards.

This was contained in a statement issued by the Deputy Director (SERAP), Kolawole Oluwadare on Sunday in which it explained that the data being requested for already exists in several platforms, including the Bank Verification Numbers, driver’s license, international passport, and voters’ card.

According to SERAP, the President should “instruct Mr Pantami and Mr Abubakar to take concrete measures to promptly ensure that the NIMC is able to faithfully and effectively discharge its statutory functions to harmonize and integrate existing identification databases in government agencies into the National Identity Database, and to use the information to update SIM card registration.”

Recall that the Federal Government had threatened to block SIM cards not linked to NIN by 30 December, 2020 and that telecom service providers that failed to block phone numbers without NIN would have their operating licences withdrawn.

SERAP however in the statement said, “No government has the right to strip its own people of their basic rights under the guise of registration for national identity number. If the authorities continue down this path, the threats to citizens’ rights such as the rights to freedom of expression and access to information, will inevitably increase, and the NIMC will remain a paper tiger.”

“Instead of forcing Nigerians to register, threatening telecom service providers with sanctions, and exposing Nigerians to the risks of COVID-19, your government ought to make sure that the NIMC discharges its statutory functions to harmonize and integrate existing identification databases in government agencies, and make use of the information collected.”

Nigerians had greeted the NIN registration order as a breach into the privacy of citizens and a means of extortion of Nigerians especially at a time the country is grappling with financial hardships.

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