US visa ban – Nigeria has substantially met demands, says FG committee

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• Urges FG to establish national DNA data bank

The Committee on Citizen Data Management and Harmonisation has concluded its assignment and substantially addressed the concern of the United States on citizen data that led to its imposition of visa ban on Nigerians.
Minister of Interior and Chairman of the Presidential Committee, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, disclosed this today at the State House Abuja, when he presented the report of the Committee to President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Minister said out of the six areas raised by the United States, two have been full met, two substantially met while work is ongoing on the remaining two.
According to Ogbeni Aregbesola, Nigeria “substantially provides information on Travellers Identity except data on Emergency Travel Certificates for Nigerians being repatriated while information on 145,695 Lost and Stolen Passports had been transmitted to the INTERPOL Database as at 31st May, 2020, following the intervention of the Committee.

“In addition, the Nigeria Immigration Service has now acquired the capability to directly transmit information on Lost and Stolen Passports to the INTERPOL Headquarters in Lyon which was one of the key demands of the United States”
The Committee, in its report, also urged the Federal Government to establish a National DNA data bank, testing laboratories and Data collection structures and formations across the federation to support the national security architecture with the view to finding lasting solutions to the security challenges bedevilling the country.

Ogbeni Aregbesola further said that the committee recommends the setting up of a Criminal Information Management System to include the establishment of a Data Fusion Centre fashioned after the INTERPOL model for pooling of crime data and a National Criminal DNA Laboratory with the Nigerian Police Force as the co-ordinating agency.

This, according to him, is to be complimented by an institutionalized standard procedure for the collection of DNA samples of all suspected criminals in government crime control and custodial facilities to aid criminal investigation and administration of criminal justice in the country. DNA is the holy grail of criminal investigation, helping law enforcement to solve the toughest crimes.

Aregbesola stated further that 14 agencies hold substantial citizens’ data which were largely disjointed and in duplicates; and as such the committee recommends that Federal Government should issue an Executive order that would provide among others; Exclusive collection of biometric data by NIMC and its Licensees; Exclusive storage of Biometric data in the National identity Database and the discontinuance of biometric data storage of new registration by all agencies and institutions in Nigeria, mandatory use of the NIN by all Mobile Network Operations (MNOs) for issuance of Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) with effect from 30th June 2021 subject to the issuance of NIN by NIMC to at least 80 percent of the population and NIN as a unique identifier for all public servants.

The Minister added that the Committee recommended the need for the National Population Commission to commence the digital birth, death and other vital registrations (marriage, divorce, adoption etc) at all hospitals and designated NPC offices in all the wards as well as integrate with the National Identity Database (NIDB) and that all agencies capturing identity data should be directed to commence full enforcement of NIN as a requirement for accessing their services.

He said that the Committee observed that an effective citizens data identity management system is a critical tool for planning well as national and global security, adding that deterring terrorism and related societal crimes through secure online identification, pre-screening and tracking of citizens; creating interface for access and utilisation of identity related data for delivery of services will help in solving security challenges in the country.
The Committee noted the need to revive communication network deployed and owned by government but has remained redundant over the years as this will help in achieving the required connectivity.
It will be recalled that following the temporary visa restrictions placed on Nigerian citizens on January 31, 2020 by the United States Government, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, constituted an 18-member Committee on Citizen Data Management and Harmonization on 3rd February, 2020 with membership comprising:
i. Minister of Interior (Chairman)
ii. Hon. Minister of Communications and Digital Economy
iii. Hon. Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning
iv. Hon. Attorney General of the Federation & Minister of Justice
v. Hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs
vi. Hon. Minister of Police Affairs
vii. Director General, National Population Commission (NPC)
viii. Director General, National Identity Management Comm. (NIMC)
ix. Comptroller General, Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS)
x. Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
xi. Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)
xii. Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS)
xiii. Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)
xiv. Inspector General, Nigeria Police Force (NPF)
xv. Corps Marshall, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC)
xvi. Director General, Department of State Services (DSS)
xvii. Director General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA)
xviii. Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF).

SIGNED

Mohammed Manga
Director (Press & Public Relations)
For: Hon. Minister
13th August, 2020

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