Seun Alabi( not real name), a Lagos State resident, has revealed how officials of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) use government facilities to exploit citizens in the ongoing National Identification Number (NIN) registration exercise.
Alabi told FIJ that his first encounter with the officials’ systematic way of extorting citizens was in 2020 when he visited their office in Ikeja.
According to Alabi, the officials distribute written tally numbers to only a few number of people on a daily basis. Once the people with the numbers are allowed into their office for registration, the rest of the mammoth crowd waiting outside would be prevented from entering.
“Sometimes, they would tell the crowd that they have closed for the day. Other times, they may say there is no electricity supply or that they have a backlog of people they need to attend to first before they start attending to new applicants,” Alabi said.
“Even when people tell them they would buy them petrol so that they can continue working, they disagree. They would say it’s against the public service rule.”
Alabi said after hundreds of applicants are turned away at the NIMC centre, the officials then transport registration gadgets to nearby illegal centres to register people who are willing to pay exorbitant amounts for the registration.
“They know full well that some citizens come from far and wide and would not be inclined to come back among other things. So they exploit this set of people and make them pay high fees to get registered,” he stated.
Alabi told FIJ that people pay up to N5,000 before they can be registered at these centres.
“I discovered three different centres where state-owned computers and biometric equipment were taken to, thereby resulting in shortage of computer and other hardware at the centres the ought to be situated,” said Alabi.
In early 2022, Alabi said he discovered many more places where government-owned appliances were being illegally used at locations not too far from the designated centres. This time, people were made to pay N10,000 each.
“I made noises and told how they are part of the Nigeria’s many problems,” he said.
FIJ made several calls to the phone numbers on the NIMC website but they were not answered. The text message sent had not also been responded to at press time.
Be the first to receive special investigative reports and features in your inbox.