Isa Pantami, minister of communications and digital economy, says Nigerians involved in business transactions without a national identification number (NIN) risk jail term or fine.
He said this while delivering an address at a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday.
Pantami warned that those yet to obtain their NIN are violating a section of the NIMC Act of 2007, noting that 51 million Nigerians have registered for their national identification number (NIN).
He referenced section 27 of act which establishes NIN as a prerequisite for several registrations and transactions in Nigeria.
According to him, while obtaining a SIM card maybe optional, NIN is mandatory as it is a criminal offense in Nigeria to carry out business activities without it.
“Based on the requirement by law each and every citizen and legal resident must obtain his/her national identification number, which is being coordinated by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC). It’s a requirement by law but many citizens ignore it,” he said.
“For you to open a bank account without national identity number is an offence. For you to pay tax is an offence, for you to collect pension is an offence, for you to enjoy any government service, without having national identity number is an offence.
“No country will be successful in education, health, budget planning or national planning without database of its citizens in place.
“The NIMC Act clause 27 states that you need the NIN for opening bank account, for insurance, land transactions, voters registration, drivers licenses. So, it is an offense to transact any business activity without first having your NIN.
“Section 29 says if you do any of these in 27, without obtain National Identity Number you have committed a crime that will lead to fines or imprisonment, or both of them.”
WHAT DOES THE NIMC ACT SAYS?
The NIMC Act of 2007 acknowledges the importance of NIN in engaging in business transactions.
Section 27 of the act provides for the mandatory use of NIN.
It states that NIN is needed for registration and issuance of passport, opening of bak accounts, purchase of insurance policies, transfer and registration of land, voter’s registration, tax payment, among others.
It is also required for “any other transaction which the Commission may so prescribe and list in the Federal Government Gazette”.
“Any authority or organisation to which a person applies to carry out any transaction listed under subsection (I) of this section shall request such person to produce his Multipurpose Identity Card or National Identification Number,” the act reads.
For defaulters, section 29 of the same act, notes that there is a penalty for not owning a NIN before engaging in transactions or registrations.
The section states that an individual who violates section 27 will get a jail sentence of at least six months or a minimum of N50,000 fine.
“Any person who carries out or permits the carrying out of any transaction specified in section 27 of this Act without a National Identification Number commits an offence and shall,” it reads.
“Where the offence is committed by a registered individual, be liable on conviction to a fine of not less than N50,000.00 or imprisonment for a term not less than 6 months or to both such fine and imprisonment.
“Where the offence is committed by a body corporate, be liable on conviction to a fine of not less than N1,000,000.00 and in addition, the Chief Executive or the line manager or other similar officer of the body corporate, or any other person purporting to act in any such capacity shall be deemed guilty of that offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of N1,000,000.00 each.”