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Nigerians reacts to government’s plan to jail those without NIN for 14 years

Nigerians reacts to government’s plan to jail those without NIN for 14 years

Nigerians has reacted in anger to government’s plan to jail those without National Identity Number (NIN) for seven or 14 years.

Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative  Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Mr. Anwal Musa Rafsanjani, said as lofty as the idea to have a credible database for the country was, the threat to jail Nigerians was ill-informed and a misplaced priority.

The Federal Government had on Thursday warned that those yet to obtain their NIN risk seven or 14 years imprisonment as stipulated by the Nigerian Constitution.

The government also said it would not lift the ban on new Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) registration any time soon for security reasons.

Speaking through the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, the government disclosed this at the sixth edition of ministerial briefing by the Presidential Media Team at Aso Villa, Abuja.

He said while obtaining SIM card maybe optional, NIN was mandatory, and cited section 27 of the NIMC Act of 2007 where it is a criminal offence to carry out business activities without first acquiring NIN.

“The NIMC Act clause 27 states that you need the NIN number for opening bank accounts, for insurance, land transactions, voters registration, drivers’ licenses. So, it is an offence to transact any business activity without first having your NIN,” he said.

The minister also put the number of SIM card subscribers linked to NIN at over 150 million, adding, however, that total NIM enrolment stood at 51million as at March 31.

He said when it comes to security issues, the economy takes back stage, insisting that SIM registration carried out in the past compromised the system.

“The ban on new SIM remains in place for security reasons. We know this ban is painful, but very necessary. In the past, SIM registration process were compromised, most of the SIMS were improperly registered, hence we have most of the SIM used in committing crimes in the country. So what we are doing now is matching all the SIMS with NIN, this has become necessary for security purposes. The ban may affect our economy, but when addressing issues of security, the economy takes back stage.”

Pantami said some people were found to have used the biometrics of one person to register about 100 SIMs, after people were given money, even as some SIMs were improperly registered.

However, the CISLAC’s Executive Director reacted saying, rather than threats, the government should step up its communication strategy to enable Nigerians know the benefit inherent in NIN.

He said a lot of Nigerians living in the rural communities were not even aware that such programme was ongoing.

Human rights lawyer and former National President, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Malachy Ugwummadu disagreed with the directive, saying the presidency does not make law, but only executes law.

“So, if the presidency is concerned about that, it should approach the National Assembly and subject such matters to a debate of the Nigerian people through their representatives. It is only when such a statement has been subjected to a serious debate by the National Assembly and approved by a way of bill that the presidency can assent to it to become law.”

He cited Section 36, subsection 12 of the Nigerian constitution which states that no Nigerian can be punished for an offence that does not exist, to drive home his argument.

Also, former president of Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, said the threat was not backed by law. He said government cannot imprison anybody without an act of the Federal Government or a law of the state government prescribing such punishment.

He accused the Federal Government of taking contradictory steps that would lead to a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases.

“Why does the government keep taking contradicting steps? Every day they stress the need for a limited number of people at gatherings and the need to keep a safe distance. Now, they want to stampede people to gather together. The government is engaging in approbation and reprobation,” he said.

Nigerians reacts to government’s plan to jail those without NIN for 14 years

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