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Confusion as NIMC declares BVN generated NIN invalid

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By Olisemeka Obeche

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) may have dashed hopes of millions of Nigerians following its declaration yesterday that mobile phone subscribers must complete their National Identity Number (NIN) registration process, even if their Bank Verification Number (BVN) generates NIN.

NIMC made the clarification via its Twitter feed on Tuesday even as crowds continue to surge at various NIMC offices across the country with mobile phone subscribers scrambling to enrol for NIN before the deadline given by federal government.

“If your NIN was generated due to the BVN record harmonisation with the National Identity Database, you will not have access to the NIMC mobile app and your NIN-SIM integration will be invalid. Kindly visit an enrolment centre to complete your NIN registration,” the update read.

The federal government had announced that telecom subscribers with NIN had January 19, 2021 as deadline to link their NIN with their SIM cards, while subscribers without NIN had until February 9 to do so.

Meanwhile, the latest announcement came barely 24 hours the commission warned Nigerians to stay away from a fake app that claims to help link NIN to SIM cards.  NIMC, in a Twitter post on Monday, dissociated itself from the app. The agency claims the app is run by fraudsters who use it to harvest NIN and Bank Verification Number (BVN).

“The app was not created by NIMC or the federal government of Nigeria. It is run by fraudsters who are currently harvesting people’s NINs and BVNs by default,” NIMC said.

The commission further advised people to protect their data and stop disclosing personal information to unauthorised persons or platforms.

Recall that last week, the minister of communications and digital economy, Dr Isa Pantami, had claimed that a mobile app launched by NIMC could be used to link seven SIM cards to one NIN. Pantami made the claim during a television interview.

According to him, the ministry and NIMC were working on transforming the NIN enrolment process and the subsequent linkage to SIM cards as required by the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC).

“We developed an app. That app, as long as you have your NIMC number, you will only download it without visiting any office. You will be able to link up to seven SIM numbers to only one.

“I have already downloaded the app, launched the app, and already linked some of my numbers immediately. This is part of digitalisation (sic),” he said.

Amidst growing concern over safety of Nigerians thronging NIMC offices for NIN enrolment, the minister of state for health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, on Monday hinted that the ongoing NIN registration might be suspended over COVID-19 risks.

Mamora stated this while speaking on a television programme on Monday. He urged the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to go back to the drawing board and re-order the process to avoid large crowds at its centres nationwide.

Mamora, a University of Ife-trained medical doctor and currently member of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, said the government had a duty to ensure citizens were protected at all times. “I don’t feel good looking at the picture where people are gathered in multitude; it is like a super spreader event which we don’t like. But I’m also aware that the relevant ministry, which is the communications and digital economy, is looking at this.

“My understanding is that the whole process may be suspended so as to reorder the whole process in terms of management of the crowd,” Mamora said.

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