Nigerians who fail to obtain the National Identification Number (NIN) risk heavy fines or jail term, communication minister Isa Pantami said on Thursday.
Mr Pantami who addressed the press at the weekly presidential media briefing in Abuja also said 51million citizens have so far been enrolled for NIN as of March 31, 2021.
“Based on the requirement by law, each and every citizen and legal resident must obtain his/her National Identification Number (NIN), which is being coordinated by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC),” the minister said. “It’s a requirement by law but many citizens ignore it.”
“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,’’ he added.
The minister also revealed that about 189 million subscribers of the Identification Module (SIM) had been registered in the country.
According to the minister, only 150million out of the 189million have successfully completed their registration while the remaining have problems of improper registration.
Mr Pantami said 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.
“National identity is a law and it’s mandatory and for you to even conduct certain activities in this country without the number is an offence; for you to get voter’s card in Nigeria, based on section 27 of NIMC Act, it is an offence.
“For you to open a bank account without National Identity Number is an offence. For you to pay tax is an offence, for you to collect pension is an offence, for you to enjoy any government service, without having National Identity Number is an offence.
“Section 29 says if you do any of these in 27, without obtaining National Identity Number you have committed a crime that will lead to fines or imprisonment, or both of them. And this is 14 years. It is not today,” the minister said.
Editor’s Note: The Gazette has updated this story to reflect the minister’s actual statement that citizens who fail to obtain NIN risk fines or imprisonment. Not that they risk 14 years’ imprisonment as newswire NAN previously reported.