Business Hilights
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‘Only an Act of parliament can enforce denial of financial services without NIN’

Disquiet has continued to trail the recent pronouncement by the Director General of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Engineer Aliyu Aziz that Nigerians yet to register and get their National Identification Number (NIN) stand the chance of being denied access to credit by financial institutions.

Aziz had hinted in an interview with a national daily on Friday that any Nigerian without the NIN issued by the commission would soon run the risk of being regarded as a non-Nigerian by financial institutions in the country.

But in an interview with a Lagos lawyer, Barr Akindele Salau, he argued that “To the extent to which the policy is good and needful for the nation, unless an Act of the National Assembly says Nigerians without NIN should have access to banks’ financial services, mere executive pronouncements cannot be so effective in this matter”.

He said the best bet for the agency in charge of the process is to drive a nationwide awareness campaign to educate Nigerians on the benefits of getting registered and not to threaten citizens.

According to him, “I am a Communications majored legal practitioner and I can tell you that I have gone through the NIMC establishment Act No. 23 of 2007, which he said was as an offshoot of the Department of National Civic Registration”.

“The Act simply mandates NIMC to establish and maintain a unique national identity database, register persons covered by the Act, assign a unique National Identification Number, provide authentication platform for identity verification, issue general multi-purpose cards, harmonise and integrate existing identification databases in Nigeria.

While arguing that the said Act did not provide that non compliance will amount to denial of any form of financial services, Salau called on the agency to go back to National Assembly for amendment so as to contain such clause as denying financial services to citizens without NIN.

The DG of NIMC in his further submission explained that “The NIN enhances access to credit from financial institutions; protects citizens from identity theft, thereby being an antidote to identify theft-driven frauds”.

“It expands access to other financial services, including insurance. It enhances e-commerce by providing a means of payment. It is a tool for non-repudiation and security for financial transactions and it facilitates financial inclusion and cashless economy.”

Additional benefits of NIN, according to Engineer Aziz “one person, one identity. It enhances participation in the political process; it is an important tool for the fight against corruption and terrorism”.

“It enables citizens to exercise their rights and facilitates management of subsidies and safety net payments such as the one that applies to Internally Displaced Persons.”

NIMC boss averred that NIN is designed to answer the question of ‘who you are’, which every human being is faced with globally, noting that NIN is “to provide a single version of truth or unique identity for every citizen and foster the orderly development of an identity sector in Nigeria.”

Business Hilights recalls that earlier last month, the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Mohammed Babandede, said starting from 2018, no Nigerian will obtain or renew their international passports without having the NIN.

Babandede gave the hint while addressing State House correspondents after a meeting of the database harmonisation committee, and disclosed that the new idea was part of efforts to have a centralised database for Nigerians which will also raise the business operating environment in Nigeria with ease of identity.