Nigerians without NIN risk imprisonment: Minister

Nigerians without NIN risk imprisonment: Minister explains that it is a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment to engage in any form of business without having a NIN.

About 51 million Nigerians now have NIN

Dr. Isa Pantami, The current Minister of Communication and Digital Economy warned that Nigerians who do not have National Identity Numbers can be imprisoned. He said this on Thursday the 1st of April.

The minister has also ruled out lifting the ban on Issuing of new SIM cards anytime soon.

The minister explained that it is now a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment for any Nigerian to carry out business transactions such as: opening a bank account and paying taxes etc, without having NIN.

Pantami spoke at the weekly State House Press Briefing that takes place at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He further stated that “Based on what the law requires, all citizens and legal residents must obtain his/her National Identification Number, which is being organized and supervised by the National Identity Management Commission.

“It is a requirement by law but many citizens choose to ignore it.

“What we have achieved in the area of enrolment from the time Mr. President directed me to supervise NIMC till date is extraordinary and we will continue to make sure that in a couple of years, we have an almost complete database of all our citizens in the country.

“No country can achieve success in health, budget, education, planning, or national planning without a database of its citizens in place.

“What I saw in the database was less than 20 percent of our population. But we want to make sure that before we leave office, we would look at the database and be proud of our Nation Nigeria.”

The minister also revealed that as of Wednesday, 51 million NINs had been fully enrolled.

In addition to that, 189 million Subscriber Identification Modules have also been registered in the country out of which 150 million registrations had been completed.

He said the others had issues of improper registration.

Pantami said there is no plan to remove the ban on new Subscriber Identification Modules registration any time soon.

The decision according to him is for security reasons.

He further stated that, when it comes to addressing the problems of security, the economy takes backstage.

He insisted that SIM registration carried out in the past was compromised.

He said he is aware the ban on registering new sims is painful but it is also very necessary to achieve the set goal which is in favor of the citizens.

“In the past, SIMs registration process was compromised; most of the SIMs were not properly registered, hence most of them were used to commit crimes in the country.

“So, what we are doing now is matching all the SIMs with NIN. This has become a necessary procedure for security purposes.”

Pantami however also admitted that the ban was capable of affecting the nation’s economy.

“People in the past used the biometrics of one person to register about 100 SIMs after people are given money, this happens to be one of the reasons some sims were not properly registered.

Regarding whether the deadline for linking NIN with SIM cards will be extended, the minister said, “ We have a meeting with stakeholders today to discuss the issue of whether the deadline will be extended or not.”

“After the meeting, we will make our suggestions to the President. we will make suggestions to him and  explain our position and when Mr. President is satisfied with the position, we will go ahead and publicize the decisions.”

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