The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project(SERAP) has urged the President Muhammadu Buhari to instruct the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, and Director-General of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Aliyu Abubakar to stop the push for registration of Nigerians for National Identity Number (NIN) and withdraw the threat to block SIM cards.
In a statement by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, on Sunday, SERAP explained that the data being sought already exist in several platforms, including the Bank Verification Numbers, driver’s license, international passport, and voters’ card.
The organisation also urged the president “to 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.”
The Federal Government had threatened that SIM cards not linked to NIN by December 30, 2020 would be blocked, and that mobile service providers that fails to block phone numbers without NIN would have their operating licences withdrawn.
But Oluwadare 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 telecoms 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.”