NIGERIANS without National Identity Number (NIN) may risk between seven to 14 years imprisonment as stipulated by the constitution.
Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, disclosed this at the sixth edition of the ministerial briefing organised by the Presidential Media Team, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday.
He added that over 51 million Nigerians have now been enrolled for NIN, adding that about 189 million Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) have been registered in the country.
Pantami reiterated that while obtaining a SIM card maybe optional, NIN is mandatory, noting that a lot of transactions in the country are not supposed to be done without NIN.
“The NIMC Act clause 27 states that you need the NIN number for opening bank account, insurance, land transactions, voters registration, driver licences, etc. So, it is an offence to transact any business activity without first having your NIN,” he said.
The minister noted that rather than population census that can be manipulated, NIN will determine the accurate number of Nigerians because of its uniqueness and tamper-proof.
Out of the 189 million SIM registration, Pantami said 150 million are completed registration while the remainder have problems of improper registration.
The minister affirmed that there is no immediate plan to lift the ban on new SIM registration as government prioritises security over other gains.
“The ban on SIM, it may affect our economy in some ways but when addressing the issue of security, the issue of economy is second. The decision was taken in order to ensure that we contribute our quota in making our country safe and secure for all. We know it’s painful but it’s necessary,” he added.
Speaking on the achievements of his ministry, Pantami noted that the cost of data provided by telecommunications companies had been halved since last year from about N1,200 per gigabyte to less than N500 now.
He blamed some state governments for the high cost of data production through the inflation of charges telecommunication firms pay for right of way to install their cables.
“Some states charge as high as N60,000 per linear metre whereas it should not ordinarily be more than N145 per linear metre,” he said.
He remarked that the ICT sector was substantially responsible for the exit of Nigeria from the last recession, growing the economy by 0.9 per cent.
According to him, the sector itself grew 17.0 per cent, four times than the second-best sector during the period.
He said citizens data retention in the country is now over 90 per cent while the ministry also allocates “.ng” domain name free of charge to qualified companies in the country.
Pantami pointed out that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has picked Nigeria as a centre to train entrepreneurs and the programme has already commenced in the country.
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