As the two-week deadline for the deactivation of sim cards not linked to their National Identification numbers draw near, residents in Lagos state this morning stormed the Alausa office of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in Lagos.
Currently, only about 41.5 million Nigerians out of an estimated 198 million active phone subscribers have NIN.
Most of the people, who gathered at the NIMC office in Alausa, were either not wearing face masks or not observing physical distancing, thereby flouting the protocol put in place by the government in a bid to tackle the spread of COVID-19 which has been on the increase in the last one week.
The Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who has also been infected with COVID-19, ordered the closure of places of worship, schools, clubs and other places which could attract large crowds.
Several concerned Nigerians had expressed concern over the sudden directive of the Federal Government and had asked that the deadline given for the registration be extended but the government has remained adamant.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project had described the order as an abuse of human rights and threatened to sue the Federal Government within seven days if it is not rescinded.
The Federal Government recently approved the licensing of 173 centres and 30 state government institutions to conduct enrolment of persons into the National Identity Database. However, it was learnt that most of these entities could not start the process immediately because they lacked the infrastructure and equipment to do so.
Telecoms giant, MTN, which is one of the firms given the licence to enrol persons into the NIMC database, announced on Saturday that it was importing 14, 000 devices for the NIN registration and they are expected to arrive in two weeks.
Meanwhile, several Nigerians have been criticising the Federal Government on social media over the gathering of large crowds in NIMC’s offices.
Some of them accused NIMC officials of demanding bribe from them.
@ayegbajeje_ tweeted, “Those in Oshodi local government would frustrate you. People go as early as 4am for numbers. If you can’t get the number and want to register, you’ll pay a N5000 bribe. If you can wait, you’ll fill a form for N100, pay 300 for printing and lamination. The situation as of 8.45am today.
“The form is just an A4 paper with ‘free’ clearly written on it. If you make photocopies elsewhere it won’t be collected from you. Presently there are over 400+ people there defying COVID-19 guideline at the peak of the second wave.”
Photos shared online shows that those who visited the NIMC office flouted all COVID19 protocols such as social distancing.
Nigeria is currently experiencing the second wave of the viral disease.