Ali Isa Pantami, former Minister of Communications and Digital Economy has said that the inability to track and locate kidnappers, whose nefarious activities have increased recently, was because security operatives are not utilising the NIN-SIM policy, his administration helped to implement.
Pantami was responding to questions about his support for families of victims of kidnapping to pay ransom to secure the release of their loved ones. The former minister admitted to speaking to a “friend and a brother” to help pay the sum of N50 million out of N60 million the total ransom demanded by the kidnappers of some victims.
“I spoke with a friend and a brother who offered to pay the remaining N50 million of the N60 million immediately. I conveyed the account number of the father of our daughters, Mansoor Al-Kadriyar, to the friend and brother to send the money directly. Any additional amount earlier generated from yesterday, the father can use to treat the daughters and other family members,” Pantami wrote on his X account.
The post was heavily criticised by Nigerians who saw the former minister’s help in securing the ransom money as “financing terrorism”.
The NIN-SIM policy was approved for implementation by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. It required all telephone companies to bar all outgoing calls on unlinked cell phone lines starting from April 4, 2022. The objective of the policy, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission, was to aid the government’s strategic planning, particularly in the areas of security and socio-economic projections.
However, months after the policy went live, insecurity in the country has heightened across the country compelling many Nigerians to question the goal of the NIN-SIM registration exercise.
But Pantami says the policy has been working. He cited three instances where the policy was utilised leading to the success of the operations. He said the question should be asked of relevant institutions fighting criminality why they are utilising the policy more effectively especially when a crime is committed.
“On the lack of utilisation, I am more worried than anyone, as my life was threatened by criminals for reintroducing it, including on BBC Hausa and national dailies, I resisted and ensured its implementation. If it is not being utilised by the relevant institutions in charge of securing lives and property, then I am more frustrated than any person, as I sacrificed my life and ignored all the threats to life. This is just a point out of 100 on the policy,” he said.