Discovery of financial fraud has forced the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to slam a suspension on Front-End Partners (FEPs) participating in National Identification Number (NIN) enrolments.
Abisoye Coker-Odusote, the Director-General of NIMC, disclosed this development at a four-day training session for the newly revalidated FEPs in Abuja, saying she discovered fraudulent deals in the process.
The suspension of the third-party service forms part of a broader revalidation exercise aimed at sanitising the enrolment process and addressing outstanding debts owed to these third-party agents.
Coker-Odusote emphasised that this initiative was not targeted at any specific group but was a necessary step towards ensuring data integrity within the country’s identity database.
According to the NIMC DG, the decision to suspend NIN enrolment activities at all FEP centres is a strategic move to conduct a thorough audit of the claims made by FEPs and to ensure compliance with the highest standards of data security.
This revalidation exercise, implemented in phases, is expected to address the significant debts inherited by the current administration, some of which are linked to questionable invoices and claims.
She noted: “Don’t forget that I inherited huge debts owed FEPs for over two years. Some of the invoices and claims were questionable, requiring proper auditing. The rot in the process and system left me with no option but to take deliberate steps toward sanitising the enrolment process.
“And to this end, I directed that NIN enrolment activities at all FEP centres be suspended temporarily, pending the outcome of a revalidation exercise.”
She had earlier announced plans to clear outstanding payments owed to its enrolment agents known as Front-End Partners (FEPs) within the first quarter of 2024.
In 2020, NIMC initiated a comprehensive drive to expand the NIN database by licensing 203 agents nationwide.
It included 73 private sector agents and 30 State Governments/public sector institutions to conduct enrolment of Nigerians and legal residents into the National Identity Database (NIDB) on behalf of NIMC.
This move saw the inclusion of key public sector institutions, notably the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), National Pension Commission, CBN (via Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems Plc), National Population Commission (NPC), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Joint Tax Board, and Nigeria Postal Services.
Additionally, licences were granted to several other public sector bodies, such as the Military Pensions Board, Abuja Enterprise Agency, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services, and the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants, and Internally Displaced Persons.
Also, about three months prior, NIMC announced its intention to further extend the network of agents for NIN enrollment across the country. As part of this expansion plan, the Commission released a notice inviting various organizations to express their interest in participating in this national endeavour.
The invitation was extended to a diverse range of entities, including Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), startup companies, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
The criteria for consideration included a proven track record of successful performance in similar roles, to enhance the efficiency and reach of data collection and NIN issuance processes.