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Nigeria’s terror-linked minister extends deadline for SIM-NIN linkage

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Isa Pantami, Nigeria’s communications minister

ABUJA — Isa Pantami, Nigeria’s communications minister plagued by revelations of his support for terrorism, has extended the deadline for National Identity Number (NIN)-Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) data verification to October 31.

The decision was reached following a request by interested actors to accommodate registration in hard-to-reach remote areas, foreigners and diplomatic missions in the diaspora, according to a Sunday morning joint statement by Ikechukwu Adinde, spokesman for Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and Kayode Adegoke, spokesman for the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).

The extension was also aimed at addressing low enrolments in schools and hospitals, according to compiled data.

The officials said 59.8 million unique NIN enrolments, with an average of three to four SIMs per NIN in the country, had been captured.

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The decision also followed a review of the progress of the exercise which indicates significant progress, hence the need to consolidate the gains of the enrolment and NIN-SIM verification process across the country.

“As of July 24, 2021, there are over 5,500 enrolment systems within and outside the country and this will significantly ease the NIN enrolment process and subsequent linkage of NIN to SIM.

“The government has approved the extension as part of efforts to make it easier for its citizens within and outside the country and legal residents to obtain the NIN and it is important to take advantage of the extension.

“The NIN-SIM linkage also makes it easier for security agencies to carry out their statutory duties and the relevant parastatals under the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy are supporting them as required.

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“With the great number of enrolment centres within and outside the country, and many more coming up, every citizen, legal resident and Nigerian citizens living in the diaspora should be able to obtain their NINs,” the statement said.

The statement also said Mr Pantami commended the Kano government and other states that had made NIN a key requirement for school enrolments and access to other important services.

Mr Pantami appreciated Nigerians for their patience and compliance with Federal  Government’s directive on the NIN-SIM registration.

“The Federal Government is excited at the news that the use of NIN in the process of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) exam significantly reduced the challenge of exam malpractices,” Mr Pantami said.

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The statement also quoted NCC chief Umar Danbatta and the Director-General of NIMC Aliyu Azeez as “urging citizens and legal residents to make sure they used the opportunity to complete the process of enrolment and verification before the October 31 deadline.”

Mr Pantami initially threatened to cut off all telephone lines not linked to NIN in December 2020. He has now postponed the deadline of the mandatory enrolment, which he said was aimed at strengthening national security, several times since then.  (NAN)

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Shooting between separatists, Cameroonian forces kills civilians

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A soldier was killed on Monday by separatist fighters who seized his weapons and left his body in a bush.

A civilian was killed in a shootout between separatist fighters and government forces in Mbalangi, southwest Cameroon.

Four other civilians were injured in the incident on Tuesday.

Government forces were heading to clear a roadblock when the incident occurred, said Cameroon News Agency, which added that an explosive device had been detonated in Ediki.

A faction of separatists in Cameroon had announced a two-week lockdown which it said will begin on September 15 and end on October 2, 2021.

In the Tatum Bui division, in the north-western region of the country, a soldier was killed on Monday by separatist fighters who seized his weapons and left his body in a bush.

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The shootout between government forces and armed separatists seeking an independent state known as Ambazonia, has left scores of civilians dead and injured since the Cameroonian government headed by President Paul Biya failed in establishing a dialogue with aggrieved citizens.

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Nigeria recaptures 108 inmates after prison outbreak

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Owerri prison after jailbreak 2021. On April 5, gunmen raided Owerri police headquarters, in Nigeria’s southern Imo state, freeing more than 1,800 inmates.

At least 108 out of 240 inmates who escaped from a prison in central Nigeria have been recaptured, a prison official said Tuesday.

Heavily armed gunmen stormed the Security Custodial Centre in Kabba, in Kogi State, late on Sunday, freeing scores of inmates.

It was unclear who the gunmen were but criminal gangs have terrorised central and northwest Nigeria for years.

“We have a total of 108 inmates rearrested,” Nigeria’s correctional service spokesman Francis Enobore told AFP by phone.

“But as the day progresses, the figure will definitely increase,” he added, saying “several processes have been activated to ensure all inmates are rearrested.”

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At about 2245 GMT on Sunday, the spokesman had said earlier in a statement, numerous attackers “engaged the armed guards in a fierce gun battle.”

The gunmen invaded the prison, which had 294 prisoners in custody at the time, including 224 pre-trial detainees.

A soldier and a police officer lost their lives in the attack, Enobore later added.

Large prison outbreaks are not uncommon in Nigeria.

On April 5, gunmen raided Owerri police headquarters, in Nigeria’s southern Imo state, freeing more than 1,800 inmates.

In addition to fighting criminal gangs who also kidnap people for ransom and rustle cattle, Nigeria’s security forces are facing a violent jihadist insurgency in the northeast and separatist agitation in the southeast.

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Biafran separatists to shut Nigeria’s eastern region on September 14

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Youths rally in Anambra 2018, in support of the separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu.

The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), a Biafran pro-independence group, has announced that the southeastern region of Nigeria will be closed on September 14, 2021, to mark what they call “saboteurs day”.

The separatist group said the “saboteurs day” is a day to remember— September 14, 2017, when government forces raided the home of its leader Nnamdi Kanu in Umuahia, where they killed at least 28 civilians in an attempted assassinate the separatist leader.

It is also a day to remember all those who betrayed their comrades and sabotaged the struggle to restore the sovereign state of Biafra, said IPOB.

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No official statement is made on the issue by the Federal Government of Nigeria which has almost lost control of the eastern region of the country.

Meanwhile, Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the IPOB is still detained by the Nigerian authorities who had illegally repatriated him in July 2021 to Nigeria after his arrest in Kenya.

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