By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Amid COVID-19 spike and flagrant disregard to safety protocols, a large number of people, mainly youths, stormed the office of National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos, in an attempt to register for NIN.
Recall that the Federal Government had threatened that SIM cards not linked to NIN by 30 December, 2020 would be blocked, and that telecom service providers that failed to block phone numbers without NIN would have their operating licences withdrawn.
However, the move had been condemned by various human rights groups, lawyers and other concerned Nigerians.
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, had urged President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the push for registration of Nigerians for NIN, and withdraw the threat to block SIM cards, describing the move as “burdensome, unjustified, unnecessary.”
Apparently, in a rush to beat the FG deadline, Lagos residents numbering thousands, stormed the NIN office, in utter disregard to COVID-19 safety protocols of social, physical distancing in particular.
Vanguard learnt that anxious people arrived the office as early as 6 am and formed a long queue outside the premises which also houses Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC.
The development led into traffic gridlock as the crowd inhibited traffic flow.
The situation attracted the attention of the Lagos State Government which drafted relevant authorities, led by Lagos Safety Commission to ensure compliance to COVID-19 safety protocols.
Speaking with Vanguard, Mr. Mustapha Hassan, lamented the plight of the people as no adequate arrangement was made to ease the process for the registration.
Hassan lamented, ” I got here exactly, 7 am. I live in Iyana-Ipaja. I left home 5.30 am against all odds. Only to get here to meet crowd.
“The officials would not allow us access into the premises. They based their decision on keeping to COVID-19 protocols as they will call us in batches when its 8.am for registration.
“This is 11 am, nobody to attend to us. Subsequently, two officials of NIMC who came to address us asked us to leave as they are battling with system collapse. He claimed they have been trying to troubleshoot but no headway.
“They asked us to come back tomorrow and Wednesday. You can imagine the rigour and pain we are been subjected for NIN registration.”
While dismissing widespread news on social media that Lagos State Government has sealed the premises of NIMC over violation of COVID-19 protocols, the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, said some government’s officials led by safety commission just visited the venue to ensure compliance to safety protocols.
According to Omotoso, “The Safety Commission was there to advise them. Even before it got there, NIMC had shut its gates against the crowd. This has nothing to do with Lagos State Government.”