As the country continues to battle with a second wave of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, large crowds gathered at the offices of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) in Lagos on Monday in a bid to register and obtain the National Identity Number (NIN).
The development comes just days after the federal government, through the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, this month issued a two-week ultimatum to all telecommunications operators in the country to block all Subscriber Identification Modules (SIMs) without National Identification Number (NIN).
The Monday rush is not unconnected to the ultimatum as Nigerians attempt to register for the NIN and beat the federal government’s deadline for SIM deactivation.
The House of Representatives has asked the NCC to extend the two-week ultimatum to ten weeks but the Commission is yet to make a public reversal of its notice as of Monday.
Meanwhile, several Nigerians have been criticising the Federal Government on social media over the gathering of large crowds in NIMC’s offices.
Some of them accused NIMC officials of demanding bribes from them.
@ayegbajeje_ tweeted, “Those in Oshodi local government would frustrate you. People go as early as 4 am for numbers. If you can’t get the number and want to register, you’ll pay an N5000 bribe. If you can wait, you’ll fill a form for N100, pay 300 for printing and lamination. The situation as of 8.45 is today.
“The form is just an A4 paper with ‘free’ clearly written on it. If you make photocopies elsewhere it won’t be collected from you. Presently there are over 400+ people there defying COVID-19 guideline at the peak of the second wave.”
Another youth said on social media that it was ironic that the state government shut down night clubs over the weekend but was permitting large gatherings at NIMC.
“Lagos State Government sent police to Cubana to arrest people having a good time amid all their wickedness on citizens, because of so-called COVID-19 yet they are inviting and dining with COVID-19 with this NIN,” @iamgerrardoxa tweeted.
@prinzgbemi, who shared photos of the Alausa office of NIMC, said the irony was that the office was barely five minutes away from the governor’s office.
The Lagos state government on Friday announced a slew of COVID-19 restrictions.
Although there was no blanket ban on public gatherings of people under 300, a minimum of two meters’ distance between seated or standing guests is required.