Registration of applicants for the National Identity Number (NIN) was stalled on Thursday across the country as workers of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) began a nationwide strike.

In Abuja, many of the applicants who arrived at the commission headquarters as early as 8 a.m were locked outside the office, while officials discussed the strike in hushed tones.

It was gathered that the president of the NIMC branch of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Lucky Michael, and the union’s Secretary, Odia Victor, jointly signed the strike notice.

The notice reads: “Consequent upon the just-concluded congress of the above mentioned association that took place on January 6, 2021, the unit’s executive directs all members on Grade Level 12 and below in the head office and state offices to report to their respective duty posts on January 7, 2021 (yesterday) and do nothing.

“All members at the local government offices and special centres are advised to stay away from their centres as task force and implementation committees would be on parade to ensure total compliance with the directive.”

A communiqué issued at the end of the branch’s congress meeting of the ASCSN said the strike became imperative, considering the risks involved in the current registration due to the exposure of the workers to risks associated with COVID-19.

The union also listed some other reasons for the action.

Efforts by our correspondent to clarify the position of the NIMC management on the strike through its spokesman Kayode Adegoke were unsuccessful last night.

He did not pick several calls made to his mobile phone.

The same situation played out in many other parts of the country.

In Oyo State, the NIMC workers did not work yesterday.

They claimed to be complying with a directive of the ASCSN which ordered workers and affiliated bodies to embark on the strike.

President of the state branch of the union, Mr. Lucky Michael, said the action became necessary due to the exposure of the workers to COVID-19 risks, lack of personal protective equipment, irregularities in promotion, poor funding, among others.

The State Coordinator of NIMC, Mr. Olusola Sotayo, confirmed the development.

He said: “The union directed the workers (to embark on the strike). It is an issue that has to do with the ministry, management and government. It is a directive from the ASCSN. We are in the office and all workers are at work, just that they are not working.”

Residents of Anambra, Nasarawa, Delta, Cross River states, among others, could not be registered yesterday.

They expressed frustration at their inability to be registered for the NIN.

Many others called for the creation of more centres to enable the large number of prospective registrants to have the vital number.

Also, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Thursday said it will arrest and prosecute anyone selling his or her National Identity Number (NIN).

In a statement by its Head, Media and Publicity, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, the EFCC said: “As Nigerians struggle to acquire the National Identity Number (NIN) from offices of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) across the country it has come to the knowledge of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that some unscrupulous persons are cashing in on the exercise to induce enrollees to sell their NIN for a fee.

“The buyers of the numbers are also trading with them to persons whose motives are anything but noble…”

“The EFCC wishes to alert Nigerians that it is not only illegal to sell their NIN, they stand the risk of vicarious liability for any act of criminality linked to their NIN.

“In other words, they risk arrest and prosecution for any act of criminality linked to their NIN whether or not they are directly responsible for such crimes.

“The commission warns members of the public against selling their NIN and to report anyone seeking to buy their NIN, to the nearest office of the EFCC or other law enforcement agencies.”