On 15 December 2020, the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) directed that all phone Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMs) should be registered with valid National Identification Numbers (NINs) failing which such SIMs will be blocked. The National Identification Management confirmed that the NIN registration applies to all Nigerians who are legal residents in Nigeria as provided under the NIMC Act of 2007.
Sections 27 and 29 of the NIMC Act provides for the mandatory use of the NIN for certain transactions including passport application and issuance of drivers’ license, opening of personal bank accounts, insurance policy purchase, transfer or registration of land by any individual, voters registration, tax payments as well as other transactions that have social security implications. The Commission may prescribe more uses via a Federal Government Gazette.
Under the NIMC Act, a National Identity database is to be created with data on registrable persons. It seeks to: Identify persons using unique features such as biometrics, faces and fingerprints, issue a multi-purpose identity card with a unique ID number, Harmonise existing identity card schemes in Nigeria; Support law enforcement authorities in ascertaining facts about relevant persons and where adjudged necessary for the public interest; and Provide a uniform means of identification across the country for inter-agency use.
Sequel to this, Ika Weekly Newspaper uncovered the extortion of helpless Ika residents by the staff of the NIMC at Ika South Local Government Secretariat as they have capitalized on this to extort the citizens of their hard earned money to satisfy their selfish interests as their prey sterns from ‘yahoo-boys’ who are in desperate need of the NIN to continue their fraudulent acts.
Other victims includes jambites, business men and women, individuals having issues with their bank accounts and others who due to one challenge or the other are in dire need of the NIN.
According to our investigations, they collect as much as #5,000 to #7,000 from their prey for quick attention and also, to fasten the processing of their information, promising their prey of getting their National Identity Card with NIN within a short time.
A jambite, Phillip Praise Chidimma who was in urgent need of the NIN for her JAMB registration disclosed that she was asked to pay #7,000 if she needed to get her NIN very quick.
According to our investigation, one Mr. Wisdom who is in charge of the distribution of forms to applicants is the brain behind the extortion as he also has agents around the secretariat whom he hands the NIMC forms to while he goes about with other assignments. These agents distributes to those whom they perceive are in urgent need of it while those who are unable to comply to their whimps and caprices are left unattended to, undermining if these people had spent their last dime to transport themselves to the secretariat. These agents also, after collection, make returns of forms and money back to this Mr. Wisdom after taking their percentage.
According to our source, (name withheld) who went to their office inside Ika South Local Government Secretariat for NIN-SIM integration and National Identity Card upon seeing these obscene acts, described it as an eyesore, saying it was disheartening.
Speaking further, he disclosed that he had visited their office as early as 7am on Monday, May 17 where he met closed gates and many others who were waiting to be attended to. He noted that as the gate opened at 8am, when he met one of the officers, he was asked to get his Voters’ Card; either temporal or permanent or any other valid supporting documents.
According to him, he went home to get the required documents but on arrival, he was told by the officials of the NIMC that they were done with the distribution of forms for the day, asking him to return the following day. He however, expressed dissatisfaction that while he was asked to go home and return the following day, forms were still being given to those who yielded to their demands as the agents of the NIMC gave immediate attention to those who could better be described as ‘highest bidders’ or those who are referred to them by top or very close allies.
Continuing, he said on returning to the Secretariat on Tuesday morning with a large number of other applicants still waiting, Wisdom drove in, in a Toyota Camry car, handed the forms to his agents and left the secretariat again with Lifan Motorcycle (popularly known as Baby Frajend) and returned again at 9.25am leaving the applicants at his mercy.
Our source further revealed that upon enquiry for the form, he was told that they do not give out NIMC forms on Tuesdays except Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays while another agent whom our source said he suspected to be a non-staff of the NIMC, called on him and four other persons aside, asking what they needed the form for and the urgency of it. Upon answering, the other four persons were called privately and given forms immediately to fill.
When our source asked why he was not given the form to fill, he was told that Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are for distribution of forms while those being attended to have special demands and if he would want to be attended to in the same manner, he would have to cooporate.
According to those who obliged to their demands and according to their varying needs why they want the NIN-SIM integration urgently, two business women one of whose name was given as Okoroh Victoria Ngozi, said they were charged #5,000 each. One Mr. Nwachokor Onyeka Favour said he was charged #5,000 also.
However, the NIMC Head of Corporate Commissions has through the official website of the agency on March 10, 2021 reiterate its zero tolerance to corruption, fraudulent activities and extortion in the process of enrolment and other activities, stating that it has instituted effective systems and supervisory checks to counter actions that stand at variance with the Commission’s corporate ethical standards.
While calling 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, it urged the general public to report any form of extortion and unwholesome practices through its official platforms by calling 08157691214, 09134959433 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or lodge complaints via its website; www.nimc.gov.ng.
Unfortunately, this evil act is going on in the face and nose of the Ika South Local Government Council staff under the chairmanship of Hon. Sunny Tatabuzogwu.
We therefore, call on the relevant authorities to call these NIMC officials to order and stop the extortion.