Mandatory National Identity Number Usage - Legal Alert

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Friday, January 12, 2018 12:00PM / Oserogho & Associates

Introduction

In October 2017, the Mandatory Use of the National Identification Number Regulations, 2017 (“the NIN Regulations 2017”) was published in a Gazette in furtherance of the provisions of Sections 27(1) and 31 of the National Identity Management Commission Act, 2007 (“the NIMC Act, 2007).

 

Some of the principal objectives for the NIN Regulations 2017, and for all other similar previous Regulations relating to it, include the harmonisation of the existing identity databases; and the creation of a centralised National Identity database. Collateral to achieving these objectives is the institutionalisation of a National Biometric Standards.

 

A cursory review of the NIN Regulations indicates their far reaching implications, some of which are examined in this Alert.

 

National Identification Number – Mandatory Use

The NIN Regulations 2017, now makes it mandatory for every person to indicate his or her National Identity Number (“NIN”) on a wide range of transactional documents; from the enjoyment of hospitality services; to the execution of any contract including tenancy and any transfer of any interest in land; to health/medical care services, the purchase of any motorised vehicle, aircraft, ship or boat; the purchase of any travel tickets; insurance transactions; shares or equities; employment contracts; internal and external examinations; admissions into any primary, secondary or tertiary schools; membership of any professional body; registration and post-registration activities at the Corporate Affairs Commission (“CAC”).

 

Other activities and transactions in which a NIN must be disclosed include the filing of civil, criminal and arbitration processes; import and export activities; the purchase and registration of mobile phones SIM cards, with other communication devices; the issuance of Birth Certificates, Driver’s Licenses, Voter’s Registration, Tax Identification Cards; the operation of Bank accounts, purchase and sale of foreign exchange currencies; loan documentation; probate transactions; etc.

 

What is NIN?

The Mandatory Use of the National Identification Number Regulations, 2015 describes NIN to be a eleven (11) digit number that is randomly generated by the Automated Biometric Identification System (“ABIS”).

 

Registrable persons to whom the NIN applies include any person who is a citizen of Nigeria, and non-Nigerians who are lawfully resident in Nigeria for a period of two (2) years or more.

 

Monitoring and Enforcement Powers

The National Identity Management Commission (“NIMC”) is mandated to ensure strict compliance with all the provisions of the NIMC Act, 2007 and the various NIN Regulations gazetted in pursuance of the former Act of Parliament.

 

Every Agency of any tier of government, with any statutory function that requires any form of identity management, shall maintain a NIN and Biometric Standards Compliance Register.

 

In furtherance of its enforcement and compliance powers, NIMC has the legal authority to impose administrative fines on any NIN non-compliant person, institution or entity. NIMC can also, through the office of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation, institute civil and criminal proceedings against any NIN non-compliant person, institution or entity.

 

Lastly, NIMC can apply for, and obtain an Order of a Court of competent jurisdiction to seal-off the premises or place of business, or to shut down the identity database of any defaulting person or entity.

 

Miscellaneous Offences

Section 30(1)(a) of the NIMC Act, 2007 makes it an offence for a registrable person, entity or institution not to register and obtain a NIN. It is also an offence to willfully destroy or mutilate a NIN Multi-purpose Identity Card issued by NIMC.

 

Where no specific penalty is prescribed by any Law, some of the penalties for any of the above mentioned offences, on conviction, may include a fine of not less than N100,000 (One Hundred Thousand Naira) or imprisonment to a term of not less than six (6) months; or both the fine and the term of imprisonment where the infraction is more severe or consistent.

 

Conclusion

The inability of the Federal Government to provide a reliable Census head count makes the NIN system a very commendable alternate. Unfortunately, after more than a decade, the use of the NIN, both in the formal and informal sectors of the economy, is not very commendable.

 

Also problematic is the insufficiency of NIMC registration centres. The few that are available are not well known. And for a few people who have registered, obtaining their NIN registration cards remains an uphill task.

 

Lastly, the under-funding of NIMC will continue to hinder the effective discharge of its statutory responsibilities.

 Proshare Nigeria Pvt. Ltd.

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