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National Identity Management in Nigeria: Matters Arising

In terms of the NIMC Act, registrable persons[4] comprise the following:

  1. Any person who is a citizen of Nigeria;

  2. Any person who is lawfully and permanently resident in Nigeria, whether or not he is a citizen of Nigeria;

  3. Any non-citizen of Nigeria who is lawfully resident in Nigeria for a period of two (2) years or more. 

The information[5] that may be obtained and stored in the National Identity Database about a registrable person 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. 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[6].

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[7].  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[8].