“He went on to state that 51 million Nigerians have enrolled for the National Identification Number as of March 31, 2021, warning that “those yet to obtain the NIN risk seven or 14 years imprisonment” as stipulated by the Nigerian Constitution”.
The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, on Thursday disclosed that there is no plan to lift the ban on new Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) registration any time soon, for security reasons, disclosing that SIM registrations carried out in the past had been compromised.
Speaking at the sixth edition of the ministerial briefing by the Presidential Media Team at Aso Villa, Abuja, he noted that “the ban may affect our economy,” but that “when addressing the issue of security, the economy takes backstage”.
The briefing has replaced the presidential media chat.
He went on to state that 51 million Nigerians have enrolled for the National Identification Number as of March 31, 2021, warning that “those yet to obtain the NIN risk seven or 14 years imprisonment” as stipulated by the Nigerian Constitution.
Pantami stressed that while obtaining a SIM card may be optional, NIN is mandatory, noting that a lot of transactions in the country are not supposed to be carried out without NIN.
According to him, “Based on the requirement by law each and every citizen and legal resident must obtain his/her National Identification Number, which is being coordinated by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC). It’s a requirement by law but many citizens ignore it.
“What we achieved in the area of enrolment from the time Mr President has directed me to supervise NIMC till date is unprecedented and we would continue to ensure that in the next few years we have an almost a complete database of all our citizens in the country.
“No country will be successful in education, health, budget planning or national planning without a database of its citizens in place.
“What I inherited in the database was less than 20 per cent of our population. But we want to ensure that before we leave office we would look at the database and be proud of our country.”
The Minister stated that the “painful but very necessary” ban on new SIMs remains in place for security reasons, adding that “SIM registration processes were compromised, most of the SIMs were improperly registered, hence we have most of the SIMs used to commit crimes in the country. So, what we are doing now is matching all the SIMs with NINs; this has become necessary for security purposes.
While explaining why the ban though inimical to the nation’s economy won’t be lifted, he stated that when addressing the issue of security, the economy takes back stage and that, “People used the biometrics of one person to register about 100 SIMs after people are given money; this is even as some SIMs were improperly registered.
“This is one of the most difficult decisions I have taken as a minister. It is a very painful decision, but we had to take it.”