Desperation to meet up with the ultimatum issued by the Federal Government for citizens to obtain
National Identity Number (NIN) or have their Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) block, made many to flout COVID-19 protocol at the office of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) , Lagos yesterday.
NIMC office located along Awolowo Way, Ikeja, close to the state’s Secretariat in Alausa was invaded by large crowd on Monday in a bid to register and obtain NIN.
The development comes just days after the Nigerian Communication Commission ordered telecommunications companies to within two weeks suspend phone subscribers who have no NIN.
Currently, only about 41.5 million Nigerians out of an estimated 198 million active phone subscribers have NIN.
Most of the people, who gathered at the NIMC office in Alausa, were either not wearing face masks or not observing physical distancing, thereby flouting the protocol put in place by the government in a bid to tackle the spread of COVID-19 which has been on the increase in the last one week.
The state governor , Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who has also been infected with COVID-19, last Friday banned large gathering, ordered the closure of schools, clubs and other places which could attract large crowd.
Several concerned Nigerians had expressed concern over the sudden directive of the Federal Government and had asked that the deadline given for the registration be extended but the government has remained adamant.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project had described the order as an abuse of human rights and threatened to sue the Federal Government within seven days if it is not rescinded.
The Federal Government recently approved the licensing of 173 centres and 30 state government institutions to conduct enrolment of persons into the National Identity Database. However, it was learnt that most of these entities could not start the process immediately because they lacked the infrastructure and equipment to do so.
Telecoms giant, MTN, which is one of the firms given the licence to enrol persons into the NIMC database, announced on Saturday that it was importing 14, 000 devices for the NIN registration and they are expected to arrive in two weeks.
Meanwhile, several Nigerians have been criticising the Federal Government on social media over the gathering of large crowds in NIMC’s offices.