Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy has said contrary to assertion by some Nigerians, foreigners living in Nigeria can register and obtain the National Identification Number, NIN.
Pantami said this while reacting to reports linking him with terrorism, with insinuations that he should not have access to database of NIN.
But Pantami described the reports linking him with terrorism as part of the propaganda against the policy mandating linkage of NIN with SIM cards in an interview with Premium Times.
He added that earlier reports that foreigners from neighbouring countries are registering and obtaining NIN number in Northern part of the country were also part of the propaganda.
The Minister said foreigners who have stayed in Nigeria for at least two years can register and obtain NIN, according to Section 16 and 17 of the Act guiding the registration.
According to Pantami, the Act permitted registration Nigerian citizens, legal residents, legal permanent residents, and legal residents who have stayed in the country for a minimum of two years.
Pantami said, “Now they have started coming with the news that people are coming from neighbouring countries to register.
“What they fail to understand is that the National Identification Number is not only for Nigerians; anybody in Nigeria can obtain it.
“Section 16 and 17 of the Act mention the registrable people in the country – citizens, legal residents, legal permanent residents, and legal residents for a minimum of two years.
“So, it is not only for citizens. And it is also important to know that this is not just an indication that they are citizens of Nigeria. It is rather an indication that you presented your biometric data, so government has control over your data.”
Pantami also dismissed claim that anybody can have access to data of Nigerians collected under NIN while insisting that government’s directive mandating linkage of NIN to SIM cards will help enhance the bid to tackle insecurity in Nigeria.
“And that data of NIMC (National Identity Management Commission), nobody has an access to it in any way he likes. Getting access to it illegally is 10 years in prison. It is there in the law. But people will like to discredit it, because they don’t like it.
“As long as it is implemented by government, it will go a long way in reducing crime and based on the statistics we have been seeing now, it’s really encouraging.
“As government, our priority is the protection of lives and property of our citizens. Security is our priority as a government – whether in agric, digital economy, education or in health, in whatever.
“President Muhammadu Buahari is so passionate about security, and he directed me to do that because he knows I try to persevere despite challenges and do what is right in the interest of our citizens and humanity,” said Pantami.
He also dismissed claims that he is on a watchlist of the United States over involvement in terrorism