Hundreds of Lagos residents who approached the office of the National Identity Management a Commission (NIMC) had their hopes of registering for a National Identity Number (NIN) shattered as the commission shut its doors against people.

A PREMIUM TIMES reporter, who visited the NIMC office at Ikeja, saw many people lamenting how the commission lacked good management and wasted their time.

“I got here at 4am, when I got there, I met like 300 people already on ground. I got slot 138 and it is because I begged someone that allowed me stay in his front,” a resident who identified himself as David said.

An 85-year-old man, Fatai Akinbile, who was at the NIMC office to correct his date of birth, expressed how bitter he felt with the entire process.

“I came from Ajah, left the house very early. The issue is they wrote 1953 as my date of birth instead of 1935. I have made attempts to correct it and they referred me to Ikeja,” he said.

Mr Akinbile , who said he did not understand the announcement that SIM cards will be blocked, said he had been on the process for long and it is tiring for him.

“I have someone here that offered to help me but when I got here this morning, they say we cannot enter and they are not working, ” he said.

Several people interviewed by PREMIUM TIMES said the commission shut down abruptly after distributing forms to some of them, saying they got an order from Abuja to stop.

“They chased everybody saying if we don’t go away, they will call the police. Of a truth, the police arrived shortly,” another person who declined giving his name said.

PREMIUM TIMES’ reporter saw police vehicles and some police officers at the entrance of NIMC office with the commission’s doors shut and no official in sight.

The process was stopped until further notice.

Background

The Nigerian government had announced last week that subscribers to all networks in the country are mandated to provide their NIN, else, they would be blocked from using their SIM cards.

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The government gave two weeks deadline, after which SIM cards without NIN will be blocked.

Communicating the directive, the spokesperson of NIMC said the major telephone networks must require all their subscribers to provide their NIN.

“The submission of NIN by subscribers to take place within two weeks (from today December 16, 2020 and end by 30 December, 2020).

“After the deadline, ALL SIMs without NINs are to be blocked from the networks.

“A Ministerial Task Force comprising the Minister and all the CEOs (among others) as members is to monitor compliance by all networks. Violations of this directive will be met by stiff sanctions, including the possibility of withdrawal of operating License,” the statement reads.

Despite the short notice and outrage by Nigerians, the government said there would be no extension of deadline.

NIMC shuts down

In a bid to prevent their Sim cards being blocked, hundreds of Lagos residents on Monday stormed the NIMC office at Alausa, Ikeja.

The office, which opened officially at 8am, had numerous people waiting at the gate as early as 5am to be registered.

People came from far distances as the Ikeja office, which is the head office, is where they can enroll for NIN.

The enrollees complained of not being able to register for NIN at their various local governments as the officials allegedly collect money for form and end up referring them to the Alausa office for the completion of their NIN.

“I got here at 7am, the crowd here was much. Shortly after I arrived they distributed forms to people based on the slot their earlier gave.

“I struggled to get number 167, but when it was time for form collection, I got form with number 118,” Olamide Mustapha said.

He said after the gate was opened and the first person called in for his biometric capturing, a man came him and ordered the NIMC officials to stop.

“He said it was order from above and it is because of COVID-19, ” Mr Mustapha said.

The Commission was subsequently shut down and many of the enrollees dispersed.

Another enrollee, Bayo Adeyemi, who came from Ikotun, told PREMIUM TIMES’ reporter that the commission lacks good management as there was no coordination and people were left attended to for a long.

COVID-19 protocols

Many enrollees interviewed by PREMIUM TIMES confirmed that there was no compliance with COVID-19 protocols as the crowd was “uncontrollable.”

Although many had their face masks on, there was no physical distancing as people brushed against one another.

“No COVID-19 protocol was observed, people were too much, no queue was maintained. You know the typical nature of people, everybody wants to register at once, it was really bad,” an enrollee said.

The enrollment process has, however, been stopped until further notice and the crowd at NIMC dispersed.


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