More criticisms trail FG’s directive on SIM/NIN linkage

•As group asks court to nullify exercise

Strong condemnations continue to dog the recent directive by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) that Nigerians should link their Subscribers Identification Modules (SIM) cards to their National Identification Number (NIN) as many Nigerians have expressed strong reservations on the move.

Some wondered why government would embark on this kind of mission at this time when the world is plagued by Corona virus and the fact that this is a festive period in the country. Beyond that, many felt it was not a well-thought out decision considering the bottlenecks associated with the NIMC registration.

A subscriber, Ahmed Musa, who spoke with Nigerian Tribune on the issue, said he’s yet to come to terms with the directive.

According to him, why would somebody just wake up and issue some obnoxious fiat! He said the government has no consideration for the welfare of the people and that all the layers of security put in place no longer have any meaning if the government goes ahead with the proclamation.

Another subscriber who did not want his name in print said the present government is a confused one filled with incompetent human beings without ideas and only bent on pleasing their masters.

“Why is the government behaving in antithetical way? We have registered more than three times, so why is this government so fixated on inflicting hardships on Nigerians.

“How many Nigerians have been captured by NIMC? The most unfortunate thing is that it is difficult to get registered by NIMC, which explains why many are not captured by now.

“Government has not find a way to correct this anomaly, yet it went ahead to issue a nasty directive,” he said.

Meanwhile, a group, the Paradigm Initiative (PIN), has asked the court to restrain the government and telecommunications service providers from carrying out the order requiring that all SIM cards not linked to the National Identity Numbers be disconnected by the telecoms service provider by December 30, 2021.

The organisation decries the Nigerian government’s order requiring all telecommunications service providers to ask their subscribers to link their National Identification Numbers (NIN) to the SIM cards within two weeks.

PIN says it is seeking a perpetual injunction restraining the government and the service providers from carrying out the draconian order as it believes it is a violation of fundamental rights to freedom of expression of Nigerian Citizens as guaranteed by Section 39 of the Nigerian 1999 constitution (As amended).

The proposed blocking of SIM cards not linked with the National Identity Number is unlawful and unconstitutional, said Adeboye Adegoke, Senior Programme Manager at Paradigm Initiative.

“Many young people and others, using their mobile phones for expression or to do business online will be affected by the poorly thought-out policy.

“No reasonable Nigerian will support such a policy that is geared to make life unbearable for Nigerian citizens,” he said.

“Requiring over 100 million Nigerian citizens to register for NIN in two weeks is not only unrealistic but a fire brigade approach to governance that will not bring any value to the people,” said  Mr Valery Nijaba, Communications Officer at Paradigm Initiative.

“Whatever the government is trying to achieve by the strange directive is ignoble. When the same government tried to compel students writing UTME examinations to register for the NIN as a pre-requisite to sitting for the examinations last year, many students couldn’t register, with documented cases of government officials and law enforcement officials weaponising the desperation of the students to register for NIN to extort them and their parents.

“The government was forced to walk back on the policy at that instance. These are the type of effects the fire-brigade approach to policymaking leads to,” Nijaba concluded.

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