A former Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, says failure to utilise the NIN-SIM policy has encouraged criminality especially, kidnapping, in the country.

Mr Pantami said this while replying to a quote from an X user named Mentus, who questioned why Nigerians queued up for months to secure the National Identification Number (NIN), which would later be futile in fighting crimes.

How about first reaching out to your kinsman @ProfIsaPantami to know why Nigerians queued up for months to secure NIN? Better late than never, if you started earlier, who knows, we may have gone passed this. Welcome to this side officially!” Mentus said.

The former minister, in an earlier tweet, said one of his friends had raised N50 million as a contribution to the N100 million ransom demanded by the abductors of six sisters in Abuja.

He also said in another tweet that he had spoken with the father of the girls after one of them, Najeeba, an undergraduate, was killed by the kidnappers after he (the father) reportedly failed to meet the deadline for the payment of N60 million ransom.

Mr Pantami, who supervised the NIN-SIM policy as minister, said the problem was not with the policy but failure of relevant institutions to utilise it.

He blamed the ineffectiveness of the policy on institutions meant to safeguard the citizenry but ignored it despite its relevance in tracking and getting essential details of users.

“The NIN-SIM policy has been working. However, the relevant institutions fighting criminality are to be requested to ensure they utilise it effectively when a crime is committed. Lack of utilising it is the main problem, not the policy.

“If it is not being utilised by the relevant institutions in charge of securing lives and property, then I am more frustrated than any person, as I sacrificed my life and ignored all the threats to life,” he said.

Mr Pantami said there were three instances where the policy was utilised successfully while he was still in office. He did not, however, elaborate on this.

“While in office, I know 3 instances where the policy was utilised, and it led to the success of their operations,” he said.

He recounted that his life was threatened for reintroducing the policy but that he resisted and made sure it was implemented.

“On the lack of utilisation, I am more worried than anyone, as my life was threatened by criminals for reintroducing it, including on BBC Hausa & and national dailies; I resisted and ensured its implementation.”

Mr Pantami said that aside from tracking criminals, the policy has more benefits, saying, “This is just a point out of 100 on the policy”.

The National Identification Number (NIN) serves as the linking component for individual records in the database, establishing and verifying identity.

Eligibility for NIN enrollment extends to all citizens and legal residents in Nigeria, starting from birth and continuing throughout life.

The NIN-SIM policy mandated telephone companies to restrict outgoing calls on unlinked cell phone lines, beginning 4 April 2022.

As outlined by the Nigerian Communications Commission, the policy aims to support the government’s strategic planning, specifically focusing on security and socio-economic projections.

Years after the implementation, Nigerians have yet to see its impact in aiding successful investigations.

Nigerians are questioning the government about the essence of the policy amid increased security threats in the country.

Insecurity has worsened in the new year following records of increasing kidnapping cases in Abuja, the nation’s seat of power.

Abuja recorded some incidents during which about 15 people were kidnapped in the first week of 2024.



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