To correct errors made during enrolment for the national identity number (NIN), the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) introduced a modification process for Nigerians aged 16 and above. Although the NIMC condemned fastracking and other backdoor services, officials are taking advantage of the delays and other lapses associated with the official process to extort Nigerians looking for a quick fix. To expose this, JAMES OJO engaged three Nigerians — Susan, Seyi, and Anthony — who had issues with their NIN and needed modification. 

Susan’s joy knew no bounds when she finally got her NIN in 2021 after enduring long queues and network glitches for days during data capturing. In January, however, she got the shock of her life while trying to renew her international passport to process her master’s degree abroad.  She discovered there was an error with her year of birth and faced another tough reality – enduring the queues again to correct the error or let go of the academic application.  The NIN, introduced by the federal government and managed by the NIMC, is a major form of identification in Nigeria. Due to its significance, many Nigerians have made concerted efforts to obtain their NIN, defying the odds and irregularities associated with the registration process.  Like Susan, some realised later that there were issues with the details provided during registration.  THE TORTUOUS NIN MODIFICATION PROCESS To modify the date of birth, applicants must pay an “approved service fee” of N15,000 to the federal government’s treasury single account (TSA) via the NIMC remita portal. Date of birth is one of the 18 “updatable fields” listed by the commission that NIN enrollees can modify.  With this information, Susan, Seyi, and this reporter visited the NIMC Lagos state headquarters in Agidingbi, Ikeja, on May 12. Like Susan, Seyi had issues with her date of birth. She was born on October 1, but the official who registered her NIN recorded January 1. Both had volunteered to work with this reporter on the story to spotlight the challenges in the process so that relevant authorities could improve it. Having enrolled for the NIN earlier, they assumed the modification process would be much easier. But the reverse was the case. It was 8:30 a.m. when the duo and the reporter arrived at the NIMC office, greeted by a long queue at the facility and angry faces of some applicants who were complaining bitterly about the delays in the NIN modification process. It was a glimpse of what they were about to go through. The modification process for date of birth at the NIMC Lagos headquarters began with the customer care service unit, where an applicant is issued a number to join the queue. On this day, Susan and Seyi got numbers 49 and 50, respectively.  After that, they were directed to a bustling corner of the facility to get a date of birth certificate form for N200 and asked to fill it correctly. With that done, they joined others in the queue waiting to be called into the main office. 

An applicant filling out a form at the NIMC office, Ikeja

After a while, they were called to join another queue in the section handling date of birth modification. It was not long before one of the NIMC officials called them and requested their date of birth and age declaration. The official vetted, stapled the documents and directed the applicants to the remita point to pay for the approved sum of N15,000 each. They returned to the office with the printouts of the payment, which were submitted to the female official for vetting. The official then asked the applicants to write a letter – using a format – to the NIMC’s director-general, stating their reason for requesting data modification. They returned to the official with the handwritten letters and a copy of the remita payment. It was around 2 pm. With that completed and certified by the officer, the next step was data capturing. But the official announced that the portal was down, much to the chagrin of the pair and other visibly exhausted applicants at the facility.  The official advised Susan and Seyi to either come back on May 15 – a Monday – or visit the nearest LGA to do the capturing and then return to the Alausa office for the final submission of the documents for processing.  THE STRUGGLE FOR CAPTURING AT LGAS Due to ease of access, Seyi opted to capture at the LGA, but the experience turned out to be another nightmare. Relying on data of NIN enrolment centres across Lagos LGAs provided by the NIMC, she started with the centre at the Apelehin area office, New Garage, Bariga, on May 16. On getting to the area, she was told the centre was no longer there. Determined to finish the capturing on the day, she proceeded to the centre at Charly Boy Bus Stop in Gbagada, which proved abortive too. She was told the official handling the NIN enrolment was away and asked to return another day.  She contemplated visiting another enrolment centre, but with her tired legs, she opted to retire and continue the push another day. On May 19, she resumed her hunt for capturing at NIMC’s enrolment centre at Amuwo Odofin LGA in Festac. On arrival, in the morning, she met a familiar story — “The official is not around now; wait for a while”. She left and returned in the afternoon. Again, the official handling the enrolment was still not available. The 27-year-old was about to leave the facility again when the official finally walked in. After some minutes, Seyi eventually did the capturing — about five working days after she made payment at the NIMC’s state headquarters in Ikeja. The official issued her a slip containing her tracking ID and asked her to revisit Ikeja LGA for final submission since she initiated the process there. ‘COME BACK IN EIGHT WEEKS’ On June 9, Seyi visited the Ikeja office again before 8 a.m. for the final submission of her documents. Despite coming early, she was number 30 in the queue. The submission should ordinarily be an easy phase of the modification process, but it was far from it. Seyi went through the same process, just like her first visit to the centre. Around 10 a.m., she was finally called into the office. There, an official vetted and signed the slip containing the tracking ID and other documents, and asked her to come back in eight weeks for a new NIN slip showing her correct details.  Like Seyi, Susan did her capturing at the Ikeja office — after several attempts. She was also told to come back in eight weeks. The NIMC, according to the modification process on its website, said applicants who have completed enrolment “will be requested to come back for the NIN within 2-5 working days or more, as it is subjected to the speed of the network”. However, the error on Seyi’s NIN was modified on her NIMC mobile app on August 11 — more than two months after the final submission of her modification documents. That of Susan was updated on August 8 — two months after capturing and final submission of documents. READY IN FIVE DAYS, NO DOCUMENTS REQUIRED — INSIDE THE BACKDOOR MODIFICATION PROCESS Like Susan and Seyi, Anthony was unaware of an error in his month of birth when he enrolled for his NIN. Anthony obtained his NIN in 2016 but realised the mistake in March 2023 – more than six years after registration — when he needed it to process his international passport.  “When they (immigration officials) imputed my NIN into their database to check my details, I was told that my date of birth was wrong. They told me to make the correction before continuing with the passport application because the passport would be linked with my NIN,” Anthony told TheCable. For the 29-year-old, there was a sense of urgency to fix the error and complete his relocation plans abroad. But when he visited the NIMC office in Ikeja, he realised it would not be a walk in the park. Anthony was at the Ikeja office when this reporter visited the facility with Seyi and Susan on May 12.  But after he was told it would take at least six to eight weeks to modify the error, he opted for the “fast-track option”.  Akintade Opeyemi is the go-to man for many people seeking to fast-track the NIN modification process at the NIMC office in Ikeja. With his laptop, a photocopier, a table, and plastic chairs; he can deliver the job in a few days from his office – a makeshift shop close to the NIMC office. 


On this day, Opeyemi told Anthony that it would cost him N25,000 to fast-track the process. Opeyemi assured him it would be done in five working days while boasting of his links with top NIMC officials. With the payment made, Opeyemi got to work immediately.  He handed a piece of paper to Anthony to write his NIN and other essential details and gave him a chair to sit on for capturing. In less than 30 minutes, he completed the capturing and printed out a new slip containing Anthony’s latest photo — the same process that took Susan and Seyi weeks.  “Come back next Friday and get it, which is five working days from now. The modification will be done and it will start reflecting on your NIN dashboard if there is no network issue in Abuja,” he confidently told Anthony.

Receipt of money paid to Opeyemi

The following Friday, May 19, the correction did not reflect on Anthony’s portal as promised. Opeyemi cited network glitches and asked him to check again later. When the reporter – who posed as Anthony’s friend – visited Opeyemi’s shop, the latter played down his fears.  “I have done it (Anthony’s NIN modification), but it is yet to reflect. The person I sent it to has some validation issues, and that is due to the validation portal. If not, it would have worked out as planned. It doesn’t take more than three days. Today is Friday. I also have a lot of work to send for correction now; he (the person doing the work for me) is my oga in NIMC,” Opeyemi said. Feigning dissatisfaction with his response to probe his alleged link with NIMC officials, the reporter further asked: “Are you sure of the person?” He responded: “Yes, he is my oga. The first one I sent for validation, he delivered it within three to four days. So, he will not fail”. Opeyemi brought out his phone and showed the reporter his previous WhatsApp chats and work done with the said official. On May 23, seven working days after completing his capturing with ease, an ecstatic Anthony sent a message to the reporter that his NIN modification had been effected. He also accompanied the message with a photo of the modified slip. Anthony has a genuine reason to be happy, after all. He completed the process in less than two weeks and did it effortlessly; no birth certificate or any other document was required; just his NIN was needed. It took Seyi and Susan about eight weeks after the final submission of their files for processing to get the same thing done — officially.  FRUSTRATION FOR NIGERIANS, NAIRA BOOM FOR OFFICIALS It was 11 a.m. on May 19. Agness, as she identified herself, made her way out of the NIMC office in Ikeja, boiling with rage. The woman had visited the bank to complete an application but was told her NIN was not validated and that her name was not properly arranged.  Agness, who got her NIN in 2022, struggled to come to terms with the reality before her – she needed a fresh process to validate her NIN. “They (the government) just want to start what they cannot finish. They don’t have the system to coordinate all these things (NIN-related issues),” she complained. But with the complex process at the NIMC office, she got some officials who directed her to Oladejo Joseph. Like Opeyemi, Joseph is one of the major plugs for those seeking to fast-track the NIN modification process.  In connection with some officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and NIMC officials, he gets clients easily. Joseph’s office is inside a complex housing the United Bank for Africa (UBA) around the Alausa passport office.  The NSDC Lagos state command’s headquarters is situated in the same compound as the NIMC. With good knowledge of the delays associated with the official NIN modification process, some of the security agency officials openly approached applicants, who thronged the NIMC office daily for various complaints, to pitch backdoor alternatives.  They get their share of the deal from recommendations made to the likes of Opeyemi and Michael. The same goes for some officials working with the NIMC. During a separate visit to the NIMC office in Ikeja by the reporter and his colleague, he met with Officer Juwon who coordinates applicants at the facility. When the reporter asked if there was a faster alternative to the approved NIN process, he directed the reporter and his colleague to Joseph. 

Officer Juwon at NIMC office, Ikeja

On their way, they met Agness, who revealed she was also directed to Joseph by an insider from the NIMC office. Joseph’s office was packed with activities as he attended to different people directed to him from the NIMC office.  This reporter and his colleague had to wait for minutes before getting his attention. When the reporter told the man – popularly known as Mr Joseph – that Officer Juwon directed him there, he said “okay” without any further question.  He also told the reporter – who feigned he had issues with the arrangement of his name – to pay N5,000, which, according to the approved NIMC rate, is only N500.  Agness was also asked to bring the same amount, but she left in anger, ostensibly frustrated by the process.  But while many Nigerians like Agness, Seyi, and Susan are enduring frustration with modifying their NIN, the likes of Opeyemi, Joseph, and officials are smiling to the bank.  During the reporter’s visit to the NIMC office with Susan, Seyi, and Anthony on May 12, the involvement of security operatives and other officials in the fast-track process was evident. Michael, an official at the Lagos NIMC office, is a renowned name in the “business.” Although prohibited by the NIMC, the tall and jovial official did not hesitate to explain that NIN modification could be done via the backdoor.  “If it is something you need urgently, you will pay more than N15,000 and get it within one week. You have to pay N25,000. Let me know when you are ready,” he said.


When asked how sure he was about the backdoor arrangement, he replied in a mixture of English and Pidgin: “Shey na today I don do am? I work here (NIMC Lagos office). If it is fast-track, you don’t need all these documents, and you will be captured today. I can help you talk to the person handling it to collect N20,000.”  Michael was the one who linked this reporter and Anthony with Opeyemi for the fast-track option. There, they met several people who also came for the same purpose – including Officer Friday, an NSCDC official. Officer Friday’s conversations with Opeyemi showed he was not a newbie in the game.  Before Opeyemi, the business was operated by Afolabi, who, according to the officer, is now in the United Kingdom. Afolabi was Friday’s go-to man in the past; but now, he has turned to Opeyemi, the “successor”.  “Nothing dey here (Nigeria). Me wey be officer, see as I dey run around. If na UK now, things for better,” he quipped in Pidgin as he tried to justify Afolabi’s relocation abroad.  With his experience in the game, the officer, who brought some clients for Opeyemi, was quick to dispel fears raised by Anthony while registering for the fast-track process.  “It (the fast-track process) is sure. I am a uniformed personnel. This one (Opeyemi), na him senior brother dey inside NIMC office. Once he captures you now, it (the modification process) will go. But the (NIMC office, they cannot tell you to fast-track. Because if they do, EFCC or DSS fit hold them. But outside here, he (Opeyemi) can say anything. Na him main guy wey dey here before dey UK now. So, he (Opeyemi) will do it for you. Shebi na for inside (NIMC office) dem direct you come here,” he added.

Officer Friday

When the reporter asked if he knew Michael, he said: “Yes, I know him; he works there (in the NIMC office).” Then, he added: “If you get any work (NIN-related issues), call me. If you had come through me, I would have ensured he collected N20,000 from you.” The short but revealing conversation with the officer showed he was fully aware of the implications of using the fast-track process, yet still engaged in it. To further persuade the reporter, the officer revealed that he and his colleagues usually arrest the likes of Opeyemi if they fail to deliver after being paid by NIN applicants. “If they (those facilitating the fast-track process) fail to deliver or there is any issue, na we dey arrest them,” he declared.  Further interactions with a few other NSCDC officials corroborated the claim by Friday – they arrest people for the same thing they are flouting. “If Michael (the NIMC official) fails to deliver, come and tell me. I will arrest him,” one of them, who earlier saw the reporter with the NIMC official, joked. Some charge applicants opting for fast-track as high as N30,000 and N40,000, depending on the urgency. At the heavily manned gate leading to the NSCDC and NIMC buildings, some of the fully armed security operatives standing behind sandbags were seen trying to convince NIN enrollees to consider the fast-track process. One of them was Oke Oluwafemi. With his personality and smooth presentation skills, Inspector Femi, as he identified himself, could easily make a world-class marketer sweeping people off their feet. He was among the officers at the gate the day the reporter visited the NIMC office with Susan and Seyi. As a first-timer at the facility, the reporter and his team approached him for directions to the NIN modification office and basic information about the ease of the process. But Inspector Femi, who specialises in facilitating international passports and NIN-related issues, gave more than was asked. “This NIN issue is very crazy. Aside from this job, I do (international) passports, which is why I am asking. They do delay here (NIMC office), so I don’t use them. Date of birth correction is always a big problem,” he said.  The officer told the reporter’s team that someone suggested the fast-track option to him when he tried to facilitate a date of birth correction for a client who had engaged him for an international passport gig.  Inspector Femi said he tried the official process for eight months without success and had to do fast-tracking for his client, which he said took a few days.    “Since then, if I have any passport work, instead of bringing people that have the same issue on their NIN (to the NIMC office), I will just use those guys (fast-tracking it); they are two, and they will deliver.  So, here (NIMC office), they (the officials) will delay you.  “They will just tell you two months – which is eight weeks. That was what they told me then too; but at the end of the day, it stretched to eight months. We even met some people who had issues for up to a year. “Based on my relationship (passport gigs) with the guy, he treats anyone I direct to him as my client. He is beside the immigration office in Ikeja here. Pay N25,000; later, you buy something for the officer (referring to himself). If I want to add my own, I will say N30,000.” 

Inspector Femi

After completing what seemed like an unending address, he gave his number to Susan and Seyi, optimistic that he had done enough to convince them.  According to the NIMC, “requests for possible modification of record(s) relating to the biodata (date of birth, name, etc.) of applicants on previous enrolment can only be done at NIMC enrolment Centers.” In addition, the NIMC said, “Local Front End Partners (FEPS)/vendors are not licensed to carry out modification services” and also warned the public against “cash payment or deposit into a personal account before service.” All the commission’s offices visited by the reporter also had banners or flyers with the inscription “Say no to extortion and fast-tracking”. However, the delays in the modification process have left many Nigerians with no option but to embrace the fast-track option.  At Agege LGA, some self-proclaimed vendors charge residents as high as N5,000 to modify names – a service that costs only N500 based on NIMC’s approved rate. “Pay N5k, and it will be ready in four days,” Ifeanyi, one of such vendors in Agege, told this reporter who approached him for name modification.  At Ojota in Kosofe LGA, Gbenga, another vendor, asked the reporter to pay N30,000 to fast-track his date of birth modification.  “It (the NIN modification process) was stressful. I started this in May and it was just rectified in August. That is a long time to wait just to change your birth month from January to October. It is crazy. I think they can do better in that regard,” Seyi told TheCable of her experience.   Until the commission improves and simplifies the process, Nigerians like Susan and Seyi seeking modification of their biodata will continue to endure delays. In contrast, the likes of Opeyemi, Inspector Femi and Officer Friday will continue to benefit from the gaps in the system.  NSCDC REACTS, NIMC KEEPS MUM Reacting to the findings, Oluwaseun Abolurin, the Lagos NSCDC spokesperson, said the command will look into the issue. He, however, said some applicants often “misconstrue the goodwill” of the NSCDC officials.    “This is untrue, please. In case you see any officer suspected to be involved in such, kindly report them to the office of the Public Relations Unit for clarification on their role because some applicants misconstrue their goodwill of directing them to the NIMC office since we share the same compound,” he told TheCable.  “However, to a large extent, our personnel, usually at the entry point of the command, have been helpful to uncountable applicants by directing them to the designated office complex of the agency to set order in the premises and avoid wrongful parking of cars and unlawful gathering of people who may have no business in the premises. “The agency has also benefited from our deployments to their complex in the area of crowd control and management, which has saved it from experiencing stampedes and needless breakdown of law and order, especially in times when they have a bad network. This often makes a whole lot of applicants billed for such days perpetually stranded. “Nevertheless, thank you so much for playing your role dispassionately as a watchdog of the society and seizing that to call our attention to your supposed finding. It will further assist us to check on the conduct and behaviour of our personnel with the people and improve on their approaches for better performance.” Kayode Adegoke, the NIMC spokesperson, neither responded to calls nor text messages sent to him on the issue. 

This is a special investigative project by Cable Newspaper Journalism Foundation (CNJF) in partnership with TheCable, supported by the MacArthur Foundation. Published materials are not the views of the MacArthur Foundation.

free vector