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NIN-SIM Linkage: 85.51m bank customers risk account suspension

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National Identity Management Commission NIMC e1537974205525

About 85.51 million bank customers may not be able to withdraw from their bank accounts by March 1, 2024, due to their inability to link their National Identification Numbers (NINs) and/or Bank Verification Numbers (BVNs) to their accounts, findings revealed.

Recall that data from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) shows Nigeria has 146 million active bank customers as of December 2022. As of January 26, 2024, the BVN count on the NIBSS portal was 60.49 million. On NIN, about 104 million NINs have been issued as of December 2023.

Additionally, Nigerians have raised concerns with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) regarding verifying their national identity number (NIN) with only about 24 hours left before the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) gave customers the deadline of March 1, 2024, for doing so.

The apex bank had asked banks to restrict transactions on accounts whose NIN and BVN have not been linked, starting on March 1, 2024. On December 1, 2023, the CBN declared that any bank accounts lacking NIN and a BVN would be designated as ‘Post No Debit.’

To this effect, the central bank delivered a circular to all deposit-money banks that included the new directive.

The apex bank stated that having a BVN and/or NIN is required for all Tier-1 bank accounts and wallets for people, even as it added that having a BVN and NIN is still required for Tiers 2 and 3 accounts as well as wallets for individual accounts.

If the deadline stands, about 85.51 million bank customers will be unable to withdraw money from their accounts.

Reacting to this development, the director-general of the National Identification Management Commission (NIMC), Abisoye Coker-Odusote, disclosed to newsmen at the commission’s management retreat in Lagos that the commission saw numerous violations and unethical behaviour at NIN enrollment and modification procedures, hence the reason it put a temporary stop to its NIN enrollment efforts for Front-End Partners (FEPs).

“My decision to direct the revalidation of all FEPs was not targeted at anyone or a group. It was a step towards sanitising the system and processes while ensuring the integrity of data in the country’s identity database. Now that we have revalidated and re-issued licences to about 96 FEPs, we believe NIN registration will be faster and more secure,” she added.

She, however, posited that FEPs are crucial in fast-tracking the NIN registration process.

“FEPs are the link between our citizens and the NIMC enrollment ecosystem. As you communicate with candidates, treat their information with care, accuracy, and thoroughness. Let us work together to protect our database from errors, fraud, and other threats to its integrity.

“While we welcome the expansion of our National Identity Database to over 104 million captured NINs and target an additional 20 to 25 million NIN registrations by the end of 2024, we cannot rest on our laurels. Millions more are waiting to be enrolled. They include students, farmers, businesspeople, and the elderly. They are the heartbeat of our country.

“Let us reach out to all parts of Nigeria, from booming cities to isolated villages. Allow us to collaborate with schools, hospitals, and community leaders. Let us ensure that no one is left behind, including the vulnerable, people with disabilities, those living in remote locations, and so on. Let us make the NIN enrollment process accessible, fast, and inclusive.”

On NIN-SIM Linkage, the executive vice chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Aminu Maida, said NIN-SIM Linkage is a process of connecting one’s NIN to his phone number to authenticate and protect his identity.

To link NIN to SIM, Maida urged telecom subscribers to submit their NINs to their respective service providers to complete the process of NIN-SIM linkage.

For subscribers who do not have the National Identification Number (NIN), they can obtain theirs from NIMC Enrollment Centres or their Service Provider Customer Care Centres.

“A subscriber can also link his/her NIN to his/her SIM by sending NIN—your 11-digit NIN—to 996 or dial *996* Your 11-digit NIN# and follow the prompts. A telecom subscriber can link his or her NIN to as many as four mobile phone numbers per mobile network.

“One major objective of linking subscribers’ NINs to SIMs is to help improve and enhance national security in the country. As a matter of critical national security, telecom consumers must link their NIN to the SIM. To this end, the Commission has directed all telecommunication operators to bar the phone lines of subscribers whose lines are not linked to their NINs on or before February 28, 2024,” she said.

Meanwhile, a customer of a tier one bank in the country said she had received a message from her bank that asked her to visit the branch to rectify her BVN but had ignored the message, thinking it was a phishing email.

The message sighted read: “We noticed that there is no Biometric Verification Number (BVN) linked to your account. Kindly visit any FirstBank branch close to you with a valid means of identification to update your account information with your BVN on or before February 29, 2024.

“Please note that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), through its circular PSM/DIR/PUB/CIR/001/053 dated December 1, 2023, has directed that, effective March 1, 2024, all funded accounts without BVN shall be placed on ‘Post No Debit or Credit’ and no further transactions permitted.”

Opay, a mobile money operator in the country, had posted a message on all its social media handles reading: “This is to remind you that effective March 1, 2024, all accounts without NIN or BVN will be restricted from conducting transactions on the Opay app. This complies with the CBN directive. Kindly provide the required information to continue enjoying our services.”

Some customers said they were contemplating moving their funds from accounts that have BVN/NIN issues to accounts that do not have issues, while others are planning to withdraw their funds so as not to be stranded, Leadership Media reported.

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