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NIMC To Address National Identification System Challenges

In the suit number FHC/L/CS/711/2022 filed at the Federal High Court in Lagos, SERAP sought an order to set aside the directive by Buhari to telecommunications companies to block outgoing calls on all unlinked lines without due process of law. SERPA joined the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and his Communications and Digital Economy counterpart, Isa Pantami as respondents in the suit. READ ALSO: SERAP Gives FG 48-Hour Ultimatum To Unblock Millions Of Unregistered SIMs “While Nigerian authorities have a legal responsibility to protect, ensure and secure the rights to life and property, any such responsibility ought to be discharged in conformity with human rights standards,” the suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, read in part. “Fundamental rights are regarded as part of human rights and are protected to enhance human dignity and liberty. “Unblocking the phone lines unlawfully barred from making calls would improve respect for the rule of law, and ensure people’s right to freedom of expression, and access to information, as well as their right to associate with others. “The blocking of people from making calls constitutes impermissible restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, information, and association. “The rights to freedom of opinion and expression and access to information are protected under section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution, article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act. “These rights must be protected online as they are protected offline. Any restriction on these rights must be provided by law, be necessary for a democratic society and serve a legitimate aim. “The blocking of people from making calls on their SIMs also amounts to arbitrary or unlawful interference with their right to family life, and socio-economic rights, as it unnecessarily or disproportionately interferes with these fundamental human rights. “The decision to block the phone lines also appears to be arbitrary and lacks any legal framework, independent and judicial oversight. This may allow authorities to act in an unfettered and potentially arbitrary or unlawful manner. “Under international human rights law, States including Nigeria ‘shall not engage in or condone any disruption of access to digital technologies for segments of the public or an entire population.’ States must refrain from cutting off access to telecommunications services. “Millions of Nigerians including persons with disabilities, elderly citizens, persons living in remote areas have been unable to capture their biometrics, and obtain their NINs due to logistical challenges, administrative and bureaucratic burdens, as well as the persistent collapse of the national grid. “The rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and freedom of association, whether offline or online, promote the democratic ideal by allowing citizens to voice their concerns, challenge governmental institutions, and hold the government accountable for its actions.”

THE National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has reiterated its dedication to surmounting the obstacles currently impeding the establishment of a reliable and universally accepted national identification system in Nigeria.

Trojan News reports that this assurance comes amidst a range of challenges, including infrastructural and logistical hurdles affecting the National Identification Number (NIN) enrollment processes.

During a recent meeting with the Senate Committee on National Identity and National Population in Abuja, Engr. Abisoye Coker-Odusote, the Director General and Chief Executive Officer of NIMC, underscored the commission’s resolve. The session, led by Senator Gbenga Daniel, the committee’s Deputy Chairman, focused on addressing the commission’s operational difficulties and devising strategies for improvement.


In a statement issued by Ayodele Babalola, the DG’s Technical Adviser on Media, Engr. Coker-Odusote expressed her gratitude for the committee’s proactive involvement and valuable contributions. She emphasized NIMC’s eagerness to work alongside pertinent stakeholders to fulfil its mission.

“The director-general’s participation in the Senate Committee’s meeting reflects NIMC’s commitment to uphold the highest standards of transparency and accountability. And stakeholder engagement in its efforts to strengthen Nigeria’s identity management infrastructure,” the statement read.

Moreover, Mrs. Coker-Odusote highlighted the commission’s ongoing initiatives aimed at bolstering service delivery and operational efficiency and expanding the reach of NIN enrollment services nationwide.

The committee recognized NIMC’s pivotal role in the country’s data management, emphasizing its significance for security, planning, and national development. Senator Daniel assured of the Senate’s support in addressing the commission’s challenges, highlighting the importance of teamwork and national interest in NIMC’s operations.

This dialogue comes against the backdrop of widespread frustration among Nigerians over the cumbersome NIN enrollment process, which is crucial for linking bank accounts and telephone numbers.

The Central Bank of Nigeria recently mandated a ‘Post No Debit’ restriction on bank accounts without a Bank Verification Number (BVN) and NIN, effective from April 2024, further underscoring the urgency of improving the enrollment procedure.

The NIN is also necessary for obtaining or renewing passports through the Nigeria Immigration Service and for registering with various examination bodies, including the Joint Admission Matriculation Board (JAMB), highlighting its significance in multiple facets of Nigerian life.

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