The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has suspended physical registration for applicants and introduced online booking to prevent human contacts at their data capturing centers, following contravention of coronavirus protocols in Lagos and other centers across the country.
NIMC added that with the new strategy, applicants would be given a specific date for data capturing and not have to crowds the centers in a bid to register and obtain the National Identity Number (NIN).
These were revealed on Monday after large crowds gathered at NIMC Lagos office in order to prevent been suspended by telecommunications companies in compliance with Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) two-week directives that all phone subscribers link their NIN and mobile lines together.
Of the estimated 198 million active Nigerian phone subscribers, about 41.5 million have registered with NIMC and linked the NIN number obtained with their mobile lines.
Confirming the new development, NIMC spokesman, Kayode Adegoke, in an interview with The Guild, explained that the move was to prevent the commission from providing platforms for community transmission of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
Adegoke, during a telephone interview, added that the new move would ensure social distancing at the registration centers and that the process would commence on Tuesday particularly in Lagos.
He said: “We are coming up with a strategy whereby applicants will have to do the booking online and they will get a date and once it is not their date, they will be asked to come to the office on the date they were expected to appear for capturing.
“We have to ensure adherence to coronavirus protocols especially social distancing and others. But with the crowd, we cannot do that. And to prevent the unnecessary spread of the virus across the state, we have to introduce the new measure.
“Tomorrow will be by booking and all those that fall on the date will be attended to and those that do not fall on that date will be asked to come on their date.
“Also, a register will be provided at the gate and once we have exhausted the number for the day, the other people will be given another date to come for their capturing and others”, he added.
Earlier in the day, dozens of applicants stormed NIMC office in Alausa for registration and were neither wearing facemasks nor adhering to other protocols outlined by the Lagos State Government particularly physical distancing.
The Guild gathered that the applicants aside that they flouted the protocol put in place by the state government, as a measure to tackle the spread of COVID-19 second wave in the state that has been on the increase, the applicants were said to have engaged in a free-for-all after NIMC officials demanded that they adhere to the guidelines.
It was learnt that the fisticuff that ensued during the process led to the Lagos state government deploying a formation of the Nigerian Police, Rapid Response Squad (RRS) to the scene to quell the crisis and directed that NIMC shutdown the exercise.