NIMC’s website inaccessible as commission denies hacking claim
·Telcos seek subscribers’ understanding over process hitches
The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has denied claims that its website has been breached, preventing people from accessing it.
NIMC Head of Corporate Communications, Kayode Adegoke, in a statement posted on the Commission’s Twitter handle@nimc_ng, yesterday, said the purported breach of the National Identity Database going round the social media is “false, a hoax and of mischievous intent”.
However, as at the time of filing this report, checks by The Guardian showed that the site www.nimc.gov.ng had not come up.Adegoke, while assuring the public that there were no breaches or incidents, said investigations on the alleged data dump were found to be non-existent in the National Identity Database.
He explained that the Commission investigated the data breach claim and found out that the database scheme presented by the adversary does not tally with the existing schema at NIMC records. He said the data being posted by criminals purporting to contain citizen’s information was fake.
The Commission’s spokesperson said the NIMC guarantees the security of the National Identity Database through various layers of security and can assure that no data was breached.
“The members of the general public are, therefore, enjoined to refrain from spreading false reports on the purported data breach,” he stated.
Earlier in an interview with an online platform, the Director-General of NIMC, Aliyu Aziz, said the commission was not prepared to have huge traffic on its website.
“Among all the data agencies, we are the least in terms of budget, the least in terms of salary structure, and we use experts to manage our system and the private sector comes to take them after a while and pay them better.
“I can say it got to its elasticity level, so it needs to be expanded. You know when you are in the limelight, fraudsters will want to exasperate your efforts.”
MEANWHILE, telecoms operators under the aegis Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), has once again appealed to subscribers.
ALTON disclosed that members have responded rapidly to the Federal Government’s directive by putting in place the processes and infrastructure necessary to enable them to incorporate existing National Identity Numbers (NINs) into the current SIM registration data and support subscriber enrolment into the National Identity database.
In a statement yesterday signed by the Chairman and Publicity Secretary, Gbenga Adebayo and Damian Udeh respectively, ALTON said it will continue to work closely with the government to deliver on the task ahead of them and ensure that the process is as seamless as possible for all customers.
ALTON informed that all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have now received an enrolment and verification license from the NIMC or via the NCC, legally enabling them to verify NIN’s provided by customers and to enrol citizens into the NIN database.
The body explained that all operators have established various systems to enable subscribers with existing NINs to add their NIN’s to their SIM registration profile.
According to ALTON, options deployed for customer ease and convenience include USSD strings, apps and other self-service online portals, walk-in stores and customer care lines.
“It is important to note that we do expect that when SIM registration details are verified against the NIN database, there are likely to be inconsistencies in some of the data captured e.g. spelling, order and number of names captured. Where such inconsistencies are found, the operators will notify subscribers and provide a quick and easy mechanism to update SIM registration data and ensure alignment.
“To facilitate the validation, verification and enrolment processes and having now been licenced by NIMC to provide those services, operators have commenced the process of backend integration with NIMC’s database and increasing the capacity of the respective databases thus enabling more rapid validation and verification,” the statement reads.
The body noted that to provide operational steer representatives of NCC, NIMC, ALTON and MNOs will also be meeting regularly to review progress, identify challenges, develop solutions and generally continue to enhance the process to ensure the safety, security and well-being of our customers while making significant progress towards our collective objective.
“We are pleased to see the recently announced extension of the deadline for registration and reiterate our commitment to ensuring the maximum level of compliance possible within the set time frame,” ALTON stated.
IN a related development, Paradigm Initiative (PIN) has asked the court to restrain the Nigerian government and telecommunications service provider from carrying out a recent order requiring that all SIM cards not linked to the National Identity Numbers be disconnected by the telecoms service provider.
PIN decries the Nigerian government order requiring all telecommunication service providers to ask their subscribers to link their NIN to the SIM cards within two weeks (which has now been extended by six weeks).
PIN said it is seeking a perpetual injunction restraining the government and the service providers from carrying out the draconian order as it believes it is a violation of fundamental rights to freedom of expression of Nigerian Citizens as guaranteed by Section 39 of the Nigerian 1999 constitution (As amended).
Senior Program Manager at PIN, Adeboye Adegoke, said the proposed blocking of SIM cards not linked with the NIN is unlawful and unconstitutional.
“Many young people and others, using their mobile phones for expression or to do business online will be affected by the poorly thought-out policy. No reasonable Nigerian will support such a policy that is geared to make life unbearable for Nigerian citizens,” he stated.
According to him: “over 100 million Nigerians have no identity (ID) cards. These include the poorest and the most vulnerable groups, such as the marginalised – women and girls, the less-educated people, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, people with disabilities and people living in rural and remote areas.”