INEC kicks against NIN as requirement for voter registration

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has kicked against the proposed use of the national identification number (NIN) as a requirement for voter registration in Nigeria.

The commission informed TheCable that the move is not backed by law and it does not share its powers to register voters with any other government agency.

The federal government had announced last week that NIN is compulsory for most government transactions, including opening of bank accounts, payment of taxes and voter registration.

Isa Pantami, minister of communications and digital economy, who announced this when he hosted the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, had claimed the policy is backed by law.

According to him, section 27 of the National Identity Management Commision (NIMC) Act criminalises benefitting from government services as a citizen without NIN.

“This is most important in the area of NIN, which is a mandatory number, based on the NIMC order of 2007 that has actively been neglected for years, ” he had said.

“There’s no identity that will define you as a citizen more than that number. It is mandatory. And it is mandatory for transactions such as opening bank accounts, paying tax, voter registration and many more.”

This minister’s comments unsettled many Nigerians who feared the move might disenfranchise millions of Nigerians who are yet to obtain their NIN.


In an interview with TheCable on Monday, Festus Okoye, INEC national commissioner and chairman of its information and voters education, said such a policy is not recognised by the country’s electoral laws including the 1999 constitution and the Electoral Act.

He said the commission “does not share its voters registration constitutional powers with any other organ or agency of government… and no organ of government is permitted to expand or constrict the powers of the commission relating to the registration of voters”.

“No organ of government or agency can impose additional registration criteria other than the ones set out in the law. No section of the constitution or the Electoral Act makes the possession of national identity number compulsory for voters’ registration,” Okoye told TheCable.

“The commission will not accede to any request or directive that will amount to the violation of the constitution and the law. The commission is a creation of the constitution and the law and must at all times maintain fidelity to the laws of the land.

“The constitution and the Electoral Act did not make the possession of a particular form of identification compulsory. The commission is not empowered to impose additional registration conditions other than those imposed by the constitution and the Electoral Act.”


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