By Seun Adeuyi
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the President Muhammadu Buhari, to instruct Communications and Digital Economy Minister, Mr. Isa Pantami, and Director-General of the National Identity Management Commission, Mr Aliyu Abubakar to halt the push for registration of Nigerians for National Identity Number and withdraw the threat to block SIM cards.
In a statement on Sunday by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, 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.
It 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.”
Recall that the Government had threatened that SIM cards not linked to NIN by 30 December, 2020 would be blocked, and that telecom service providers that failed to block phone numbers without NIN would have their licences withdrawn.
But SERAP in the statement 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 telecom 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.”