National e-ID not substitute for International Passport – NIMC

By The Citizen

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has dismissed reports that the new National electronic Identity Card is an alternative to the International Passport, saying, it is the responsibility of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS)  to determine  travel document in the country.

The commission said its responsibility is not to canvass for the e-ID card to be used as travel document. Head, Card Management Service, NIMC, Mr. Tunji Durodola, while fielding questions from journalists at an event in Abuja recently, said although one of the 13 applets found in the National e-ID Card has travel functionality for certain types of travels, the decision to adopt the e-ID Card and the operational modalities remained the responsibility of the NIS.

“If and when it decides on this, the process can then be defined and implemented by the NIS which has the sole responsibility for migration management in Nigeria as the issuing authority for passport and travel documents in line with ICAO regulations.” He explained that even where there are regional requirements in the ECOWAS, which was part of the reasons for the inclusion of the ICAO-Travel functionality in the e-ID Card, it can only be adopted and implemented by the NIS, which is empowered by law to provide international passport and related documents for citizens who wish to travel out of the country.

Noting that the commission is deeply embarrassed by the recent reports, Durodola said,  though  the applet on the Card issued to Nigerians is a bonafide Machine Readable Travel Document (MRTD), recognised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the NIS has to approve its use before it could  become a travel document recognised by NIS..

He said: “For any country to recognise the use of the National e-ID Card for cross-border travel, its usage must be the product of a bilateral agreement and NIS runs the show in that respect, we have only provided an early and appropriate means of achieving that so we do optimize the resources we have as is done in Europe. That’s all we did. For this to be possible, the Nigeria Immigration Service alone not even with NIMC must approve the process.”

Durodola condemned reports, which he said, caused embarrassment to the management of both NIMC and the NIS. According to him, both agencies of the federal government have a very cordial and meaningful working relationship on the management of the on-going enrolment of citizens and legal residents.

He noted that NIMC has enough on its hands managing the central depository of a single version of truth on individuals identities in the country, to want to canvass the take-over of the statutory responsibility of another agency.

“We are mindful of the developments in the ECOWAS Region about national identity cards and just wanted to be ready ahead of time, but while informing and educating Nigerians on the use cases of the Card, we did not at any time say that the Card can be used as an alternative to the international passport; but it was necessary that Nigerians know it has an applet that can function as a travel document,” he said.

He said at any point the travel applet would be activated and used as a travel document, it is the NIS and not the NIMC that would determine that operational and technical process and NIMC would facilitate the implementation as may be required by the NIS.

'If they do not request for it, we will not participate as they have the man power and skills to do post activation of the ICAO applet,” he reiterated. - Thisday.