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National Identity Management in Nigeria: Matters Arising


It is widely acknowledged that data is the new “oil” and Nigeria needs to take implementation of its Digital Identity Ecosystem seriously, in order to be at pace with the advanced and other emerging economies around the globe and be positioned to harness information technology for security and development purposes. It is our firm belief that the success of the policy of the FGN on mandatory use of the NIN will enhance the current administration’s focus on economic development, adequate security and anti-corruption crusade.

However, the law is yet to settle and the processes fully institutionalized. For instance, whilst the decision of the High Court of Anambra State means that the NIN Slip is valid for use in lieu of the National Identity Card and thus enhances the powers of the NIMC to enforce compliance with relevant statutory provisions; we are aware that the defendant is currently on appeal. Whilst the NIMC has issued a press release supporting the decision of the High Court[11], we note that except the decision is reaffirmed by higher courts in the land, it will be difficult to enforce the law as there are many unregistered persons and registered persons with only the NIN Slip than those who have obtained the National Identity Card.

Again, the recent ruling of the Supreme Court on the mandatory use of the NIN for registering and filing court processes potentially undermines the ability of the NIMC to enforce the NIN Mandatory Use Regulations in that regard. It is most likely other authorities and organizations will make the ruling a reference point for discountenancing the mandatory requirement of the NIN, as a precondition for providing services to registrable persons. As a way forward, it is recommended that the Federal Government intensifies efforts to create awareness on the importance of the NIN to the country and procure the endorsement of relevant stakeholders, government agencies and relevant industries. It is also advisable to procure relevant amendments to the NIMC Act, incorporating the salient provisions of the NIN Mandatory Use Regulations.


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