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Biometrics implementations for public uses expanding in Nigeria

Biometrics implementations for public uses expanding in Nigeria
 

The use of biometrics in Nigeria, be it for the national digital ID scheme, civil service attendance and pension schemes, the management and tracking of prison inmates, the establishment of residency cards, airport security and quick passenger checks, as well as voter registration and accreditation, continues to gain momentum in Africa’s biggest democracy.

New biometric residency card project in Lagos State

The government of the Nigerian State of Lagos has announced it is introducing a new biometric card to be loaded with special features, which will enable Lagos state residents access to many public services, reports Alimosho Today.

The new biometric cards with a five-year validity will replace the old ones which had been in use before 2019, and which have a ten-year lifespan.

The report quotes Ibilola Kasunmu, general manager of the Lagos State Residents Registration Agency (LASRRA), as saying the cards will be used for services including application for loans from the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), and payments for different purposes such as urban transportation.

The official is also quoted as saying the card will also be used as a tool for “personal security and identity verification at points of procuring government services, in addition to the resident cardholder being able to use it for services such as processing of driver’s license and filing of tax returns among others.”

Logos residents have been called upon to pre-enroll for the exercise online before finding any nearby LASRRA station for capture of their biometrics.

Kasunmu says they are looking forward to issuing at least six million of the new cards by the end of this year.

Biometric registration swells PDP membership in Edo State

The Governor of Edo State Godwin Obaseki has been quoted as saying the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) – the main opposition party in Nigeria at the moment — has seen its membership in the state jump to 500,000 following an ongoing biometric registration exercise to reconstitute the party’s database.

Nigerian Observer reports that the figure given by the governor represents about 10 percent of the State’s estimated population of five million, and the goal in this first phase of biometric registration is to enlist one million new members.

This, he says, will not only make the party’s database more credible, it will be a platform to consolidate its gains and help it win the next State elections.

INEC urged to improve biometric voter system for future polls

Erstwhile federal Minister of Aviation of Nigeria, Chief Osita Chidoka, has challenged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to improve on the functioning of the biometric Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) in order to avoid glitches in upcoming elections in the country, writes National Daily.

The official made the call recently in the wake of the outcry that characterized the use of the biometric voter accreditation system during the local government election in the Federal Capital Territory recently.

The election was marred by failure of biometric kits across many polling stations.

“The usage of BVAS was fraught with challenges, including wrong configuration of BVAS to respective polling units, failure to accredit voters, as well as delays in authenticating voters within processing time. The late deployment and commencement are worrisome. INEC needs to explain why such logistical issues could not be controlled in a small election such as the FCT local council elections,” the official said in a statement quoted by National Daily.

Chidoka said the electoral body has to renew confidence in the electorate and prove it can organize future elections with little or no reproach as it prepares for upcoming elections in the states of Ekiti and Osun.

In Cross River State, INEC has trained more than 1,900 ad hoc staff to use the biometric system for by-elections in the Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency and Akpabuyo State Constituency, reports The Tide. Voters must present their Permanent Voter Card, in addition to performing biometric identity verification.

Court halts biometric verification in Edo State-owned university

Not all of Nigeria’s biometric systems are being used as intended. An industrial court in the Edo State capital, Benin City, has issued a restraining order against any moves to continue with or punish some staff of the Ambrose Alli University (AUU) with regard to a biometric verification drive there, according to Independent Nigeria.

As contained in the report, the next session on the matter comes up on February 23, 2022, for a hearing on the motion on notice for an interlocutory injunction.

The lawsuit is the fallout of a disagreement between the University’s Chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities of Nigeria (ASUU) and the Management of the AUU over the requirement of biometric verification for staff in the institution.

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