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Nigerian digital ID system wrestles with persistent corruption and delays

Nigerian digital ID system wrestles with persistent corruption and delays

Authorities in Nigeria are urging people not to pay bribes to third-party service brokers or National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) staff to expedite registration for the national digital identity or make changes to their National Identification Numbers (NINs).

TheCable reports that NIMC Acting Director General Bisoye Coker-Odusote restated the department’s commitment to rooting out all corruption, and urged the public to report unethical practices.

Reports of extortion in the digital identity application and biometrics enrollment process were widespread following an investigation by TheCable in 2021, with Nigerians paying hundreds or even thousands of naira (US$1 equals roughly 769 naira) to complete the processes which are supposed to be free.

Those who receive NINs are not necessarily past the delays and complications associated with the digital identity, according to another investigation by TheCable. Correcting errors in the digital ID account is a time-consuming and bribery-ridden process for some, based on an account of three people attempting to correct their records in order to carry out other interactions with the government, like applying for biometric passports. The account suggests that the problems with extortion, technical errors and system failures experienced in 2021 have not gone away.

Some applicants have paid up to N40,000 ($52) to fast-track their NIN applications.

The reports of persistent problems in Nigeria’s digital identity issuance system coincide with a push to clear a large backlog of passport applications in the country.

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