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NIN: Ondo residents protest extortion

By Jimoh Ahmed & Biyi Akinnodi

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As workers of the National Identity Management Commission embarked on strike over funding and exposure to COVID-19, thousands of people in Ondo State have protested against extortion by the commission staff.
Investigation by The Hope observed that the Commission personnel openly taunt for bribe ranging from N2,000 to N5,000 before attending to prospective applicants.
Those interviewed claimed that the NIM staff created bottle necks deliberately to frustrate them in a bid to extort them.
An applicant, Balogun Yisa told our reporter that some of the Commission’s staff demanded for money from him to fast track his registration.
Balogun alleged that he and others were made to purchase a registration form for N50, which they appropriately filled with their personal details.
He went further to disclose that after submitting the form to a man who claimed to be an officer of the commission he had to wait for three days without result.
According to him, it was on the fourth day that the same man asked him to pay N5000 to get him registered but after much haggling the price was reduced to N2000.
Another applicant, Mrs Rebecca Oladapo said she bought the registration form from a little girl who later took her to a man who put her data down and asked her to pay N2000 for the registration
Mrs Rebecca said she was asked to come back the following day but could not be registered on the following day.
She disclosed that she has been going to the registration centre for the past one week without any fruitful result.
It was the same story at Oka Akoko and Owo registration centers where a large number of people were seen waiting to be registered.
At the Oke Mapo Town Hall office of the agency in Owo, a large crowd of people waiting to be registered for the National Identify Card were seen loitering around the place.
Some young girls and men were seen clutching leaflets purpoted to be NIN registration forms to their chests and running after any available person they set their eyes upon soliciting for patronage.
Scores of the NIN registration vendors even approached our reporter for patronage.
An applicant who does not what his name mentioned disclosed that he and others have been experiencing difficulty in registering for the Identity card.
The applicant said the ultimatum given by the government is responsible for the large crowd who besieged the registration centers on daily basis.
He however berated the federal government for the ultimatum, saying it was ill advised considering the prevalence of the second wave of COVID-19 in the country.
According to him, the large crowds that used to turn out at the centres is against the coronavirus pandemic guidelines and will only jerk up the rate of positive cases of COVID-19 cases in the country.
A source at one of the NIN registration centers who did not want his name to be published because he was not authorised to speak to the press denied that they were collecting money from prospective applicants.
The source however did not deny the fact that some unscrupulous members of the public were conniving with some members of staff of the Commission to defraud members of the public.
He however said the registration is free.
Meanwhile, thousands of applicants have been locked outside of the offices of the National Identity Management Commission following a strike embarked on by NIMC staff.
The notice of strike was signed by the President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, NIMC branch, Lucky Michael, and its Secretary, Odia Victor.
It read in part, “Consequent upon the just concluded congress of the above mentioned association that took place on January 6, 2020, the unit executive directs all members of grade level 12 and below in the head office and state offices to report to their respective duty posts tomorrow January 7, 2020 and do nothing.
“All members at the local government offices and special centres are advised to stay away from their various centres as task force and implementation committees would be on parade to ensure total compliance to the directive.”
The Nigerian Communications Commission had last month asked all telecoms firms to disconnect the SIM cards of all persons who have not integrated their National Identity Numbers with their phone lines by the end of January.
Currently, over 100 million Nigerians have yet to do so which has caused huge crowds to gather at the various offices of NIMC in breach of the COVID-19 protocol.
According to a communiqué issued at the end of the congress meeting of the ACCSN, NIMC branch, the strike had become necessary due to the exposure of staff to COVID-19 risks, lack of personal protective equipment, irregularities in promotion and poor funding.
The notice of strike was signed by the President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, NIMC branch, Lucky Michael, and its Secretary, Odia Victor.

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