National identity management in Nigeria: Matters arising

National identity management in Nigeria
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Recently, the applicability of the provisions of the law and regulations governing national identity management in Nigeria was tested in two separate and interesting lawsuits. This article reviews the extant legal and regulatory framework for national identity management in Nigeria vis-à-vis the decisions of the various courts and analyses their implications on the activities and business transactions carried out by individuals and corporate entities in Nigeria.

An effective national identity management system is critical to the development of any economy. It provides a universal identification infrastructure for a country that enables access and means of confirming the identity of individuals residing in a country. Thus, proper economic planning, adequate intelligence gathering, and a functioning internal and external security architecture will be difficult to achieve in them absence of a robust national identity system (which is usually comprised in a central identity repository or
database).

In recognition of the foregoing, the National Identity Management Commission (“NIMC”) was established in 2007 pursuant to the NIMC Act to create, manage, maintain and operate a unified National Identity Database for Nigeria. To this end, the NIMC, which replaced the defunct Department of National Civic Registration, is required to carry out National identity management in Nigeria: Matters arising the registration of all registrable persons in Nigeria and thereafter issue a General Multipurpose Identity Card (“National Identity Card”) to each registered person. In terms of the NIMC Act, registrable persons comprise the following: Any person who is a citizen of Nigeria; Any person who is lawfully and permanently resident in Nigeria, whether or not he is a citizen of Nigeria; Any non-citizen of Nigeria who is lawfully resident in Nigeria for a period of two (2) years or more.

The information that may be obtained and stored in the National Identity Database about a registrable person (see Second Schedule to the NIMC Act) include: full names; other names by which the person is or has been known; date of birth; place of birth; gender; address of the person’s principal place of residence in Nigeria; address of every other place in Nigeria where the person has a place of residence; passport photograph; signature; fingerprints and other biometric information of the person. GREYMATTER scious of the balance required and you work towards this in installments per time to correct the gaps that may present themselves.

In plain terms, it is not too late to rejig the system and intentionally drive yourself towards the fulfilment of your goals. Focus is synonymous with directed intention. As the saying goes, even the road to hell is paved with good intentions, so intention, is not enough if there is no active direction of this towards your aims. It is a very tall order and usually the point at which many of us fall off the wagon. This means you drive your intention to ensure that you do not spend one second longer doing anything which derails you from the progress that you hope to see. Focus is the finisher’s strength and the propeller for almost any successful person. It means zeroing in on your goal without distraction.

This goal may be a singular task at work or as simplistic as waking up at bed or even reducing your screen time. It is the leash on your self to ensure that you behave in line with the dictations of your head and not run off on emotional rollercoasters at the time you should show up to achieve. Lastly, agility is not only the current buzz word in project management, but it is also the ingredient that distils success and mediocrity. It is easy to fall into boring rhythms and not realise that you are losing your ability to create or more importantly that you are getting stuck. Indeed, it is easy for focused people to be railroaded into stagnancy without knowing it. Agility harnesses intention and focuses for application in situations that are not the norm or planned for. It manages to change well without losing steam, attention or results. It is important that as we go on with life and work that we begin to be nimble enough to adjust as and when they are required. Those who advance are those who are able to make quick and smart adjustments as the demands arise. If there is a knowledge gap in the office, the agile worker will fill it.

If there is a need for someone to step into the shoes of another in the event of an emergency. it is usually the agile worker who would be drafted in. The first indication of agility, in my opinion, will be if you are able to turn around the non-performance from the beginning of the year and make the rest of the year worthwhile. As you begin to work out your personal or even corporate missions and visions, it is important that you review your work and life strategy for these ingredients and where they are missing, I can assure you that little doses of not less than one and where you really mean business all three of these will change the outcomes that you see. I wish you all the best.

OYEYEMI ADERIBIGBE is a Senior Associate at Templars. She is also the current Vice-Chairman of the Young Lawyers’ Forum of the Nigerian Bar Association -Section on Business Law and the Young Lawyers’ Committee Liaison Officer of the African Regional Forum of the International Bar Association. Feedback  [email protected]; [email protected] In addition to the foregoing, information in respect of a registrable person relating to nationality; entitlement to remain in Nigeria together with the attached terms and conditions (if any) may also be recorded in a registered person’s entry in the Database.

The National Identity Card issued upon completion of the registration process bears a unique National Identification Number (“NIN”), which is assigned by the NIMC to each registered person in the National Identity Database. The unique NIN is required to be incorporated into or made compatible with other existing identity-related databases/ registers containing information/ data relating to the registered person. In order to ensure efficiency in the task of covering the whole country, the NIMC operates administrative and monitoring offices in all the States, Local Government Areas and Area Councils of the Federation. Legal Significance of the National Identity Card As provided in the NIMC Act, registration and procurement of a National Identity Card is compulsory for all registrable persons in Nigeria.

In this regard, there are no age restrictions for registration and possession of the National Identity Card. Hence, any person born in Nigeria since the introduction of the NIN is required to be registered within sixty (60) days of his/her birth, or at any time after this period not exceeding one hundred and eighty (180) days, or any other period as the NIMC may specify from time to time by regulation. For Nigerian citizens born outside the country, the NIMC Act does not specify a time frame within which they are to register and obtain the NIN but it should be noted that registration is also compulsory for this class.

Hence, the NIMC has initiated the Diaspora Enrolment Programme and licenced some InfoTech companies who, working with foreign partners, are to carry out the enrolment of Nigerian adults and children in the Diaspora into the National Identity Database (see NIMC Press Release, 25 March, 2019). The NIN is required to be presented by registrable persons, before several basic transactions can be undertaken in Nigeria. Specifically, all registrable persons are required to state their NIN while engaging in transactions including the following: Application for, and issuance of a passport; Opening of individual and/or personal bank accounts; Purchase of insurance policies; Purchase, transfer, and registration of interest in land (subject to the Land Use Act); Transactions relating to pensions and Health Insurance Schemes; Consumer credit transactions, Payment of taxes; Registration of voters; and Transactions having social security implications.

Registration for, and provision and use of hospitality services; Registration and licensing for, and use of health or medical services; Application for the adoption of an infant, child or person under applicable laws;
Purchase and registration of aircrafts, ships, boats, motor vehicle and motorcycles; Registration and use of aviation services by airline operators and customers; Boarding of aircrafts, trains, commercial vehicles, ships and boats; Purchase of travel tickets or tokens for air, rail, road and water transportation; Acquisition, sale or transfer or
transmission of shares or equities and other financial instruments; Enrolment into primary, secondary and tertiary schools and continuous professional studies in Nigeria. Registration of companies, sole proprietorships, partnerships and non-profit organisations and other post-incorporation documentation with the Corporate Affairs Commission; and Filing and registration of criminal and civil actions in courts or other arbitration processes.

Specifically, Section 27(2) of the NIMC Act provides that any authority or organization to which a person applies to carry out any of the above listed transactions (or any other transaction as may be prescribed by the NIMC in  Federal Government Gazette), shall request such person to produce his National Identity Card or NIN. Thus, a person (individual or corporate) who violates any of the provisions of the NIMC Act or permits the carrying out of any transaction covered by the NIMC Act without a NIN, commits an offence punishable with various fines and terms of imprisonment (as appropriate) in line with the provisions of Sections 28, 29 and 30 of the NIMC Act. Regulatory & Compliance Framework The framework for the enforcement of compliance with the requirement of the NIN was first developed in 2015.

The framework was reviewed by the NIMC in 2017, culminating in the release of the Mandatory Use of the National Identity Number Regulations, 2017 (the “NIN Mandatory Use Regulations”), published in the official gazette of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Government Notice No. 123, Vol. 104, No. 121,
Lagos, 13th November, 2017). As provided in Section 4(1) of the NIN Mandatory Use Regulations, the NIMC is required to ensure strict compliance with the NIN requirement under the NIMC Act, NIN Mandatory Use Regulations and other regulations made pursuant to the NIMC Act, as well as Nigeria Biometrics Standards Regulations, 2017.

In furtherance of its resolve to emplace a formidable identity management system, the Federal Government of Nigeria (“FGN”), at the Federal Executive Council meeting of September 12, 2018, approved the immediate commencement of the implementation of a strategic roadmap for Digital Identity Ecosystem in
Nigeria; necessitating full compliance with the NIN Mandatory Use Regulations. In this regard, the NIMC issued
a public notice specifying January 1, 2019, as the FGN-approved commencement date for the enforcement of the NIN Mandatory Use Regulations and the consequent application of appropriate sanctions and penalties for noncompliance. Consequently, all registrable persons are required to provide their NIN to be able to carry out the above-listed transactions (and any other transactions that the NIMC may determine by regulation) as from the stated date.

In accordance with the provisions of Sections 6 and 7 of the NIN Mandatory Use Regulations, the NIMC in exercise of its regulatory and enforcement powers, may: Upon giving written notice of not less than 24 hours, have the
right to conduct an audit on the state of affairs and operations of transactions or services carried out by applicable persons and entities; Obtain an order of the Federal High Court to seal-off the premises or business place or shut down the identity database or stop further services by the defaulting person or entity; Demand payment of a penalty as provided in the NIMC Act; and Request the assistance of any law enforcement agency to enforce compliance with any directives issued under the NIN Mandatory Use Regulations. Furthermore, the NIMC is empowered to impose administrative fines and sanctions, in addition to the penalties provided in the NIMC Act, on any person or entity who fails to comply with the provisions of the NIN Mandatory Use Regulations and other relevant regulations made pursuant to the NIMC Act.

Testing the Law Pursuant to the objectives of the NIMC Act and the NIN Mandatory Use Regulations, the NIMC has commenced collection of the data and biometric information of registrable persons into the National Identity Database. Upon completion of registration, a transaction slip known as the National Identification Number Slip (“NIN Slip”) is first issued to a registered person pending release of the National Identity Card. The NIN Slip serves as evidence of registration and bears the unique NIN of the registered person.

1 Comment
  1. latest nigeria news says

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