Did Pantami say Nigerians risk 14 years imprisonment for not having NIN?By Niyi Oyedeji on April 4, 2021
ON FRIDAY, April 2, 2021, many Nigerian dailies and blogs reported that enjoying specified government services without a National Identification Number (NIN) risks 14 years jail term.
This was attributed to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami.
He was said to have made the claim at the sixth edition of the ministerial briefing organised by the Presidential Media Team, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on April 1.
The Channels Televison, Livetimesng and National mirror online had similar variations of this headline “Nigerians without NINs risk 14-yr jail term, says FG” used by the Guardian.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami said Nigerians without National Identification Number (NIN) risk 14 years jail term.
The FactCheckHub findings show that the claim is FALSE.
The minister as seen in a video from the event here, stated that the law to sanction people using certain services without NIN has been in existence for 14 years now. He started by listing the services. He said:
National Identity is a law and it’s mandatory and for you to conduct certain activities without the number is an offence. For you to get a voter’s card in Nigeria based on Section 27 of the NIMC Act, it is an offence.
For you to open a bank account without a National Identity Number is an offence. For you to pay tax is an offence. For you to collect pension it is an offence.
For you to enjoy any government service without having a National Identity Number is an offence.
Section 29 says if you do any of these in Section 27 without obtaining National Identity, you have committed a crime that will lead to fine or imprisonment or both of them and this is 14 years, not today.
The phrasing of Pantami’s sentence “this is 14 years” is what led to the confusion. However his addition of “not today” puts the phrase in context. It is referring to something that has happened in the past. In this case when the law came into existence.
In addition, Pantami has clarified on his twitter page that he was not referring to “14 years imprisonment” rather “NIMC has been 14 years in existence, since 2007”.
The NIMC Act which penalises using of certain social infrastructures without a NIN came into existence in 2007. This makes it 14 years old in 2021.
What is the penalty for accessing services without NIN?
Section 29 of the NIMC Act enumerates the offences and penalties for carrying out or permitting use of services listed in section 27 without the NIN.
It states that a person who carries out or permits the carrying out of any transaction specified in section 27 without a NIN commits an offence and shall be liable to a fine of not less than N50,000 or imprisonment for a term of not less than 6 months or both. Whereas cooperate body gets not less than N1 million fine among others.
The claim that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami said Nigerians without National Identification Number (NIN) risk 14 years jail term is FALSE.