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NIN defaulters risk 14-year jail term, says minister

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…no plans to lift ban on SIM registration

THE Federal Government has warned that those yet to obtain their National Identification Numbers risk seven or 14 years imprisonment as stipulated by the constitution.

Government also said there was no plan to lift the ban on new Subscriber Identification Module registrations any time soon for security reasons.

Already, the FG said as of March 31, 2021, only 51 million Nigerians had been authenticated for NIN.

Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, who disclosed these at the sixth edition of the ministerial briefing organised by the Presidential Media Team, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said government had planned to ensure that in the next two years, the country will have a database.

He added that when it came to addressing the issue of security, the economy takes back stage. He also said it is an offence to pay taxes, have voters’ card or even pay pension without the NIN.

The minister said, “President Muhammadu Buhari gave priority to security because it is our number one primary responsibility as a government.

“The ban on SIM may affect our economy in some ways but when addressing the issue of security, the issue of economy is second because you have to protect your citizens before you talk of economy.

“The decision was taken in order to ensure that we contribute our quota in making our country safe and secure for all. We know it’s painful but it’s necessary.

“In September 2019, we did audit exercises and we allowed a process of auditing and the process of new SIM to go concurrently. We discovered that some of the agents doing the registration compromised the system badly to the extent that while we were doing audit exercise in 2019, they allowed people to come. “One person will be invited, he would be given a little amount of money, they will use his biometric to register a hundred cards online and get a passport to attach to it and they will complete the bio-data and the SIM will be activated.

“But as you know, criminals, whether bandits or terrorists, always exploit this SIM and we don’t want to allow our platform for perpetration of criminality in our country.

“This is one of the most difficult decisions taken as a minister. It is a very painful decision but we had to take it.”

Pantami also put the number of SIM card subscribers linked to NIN at over 150 million, adding, however, that enrollment of NIN was 51 million as at March 31, 2021.

“So what we are doing now is matching all the SIMs with NIN; this has become necessary for security purposes,” he said.

He explained that while 150 million completed registration, the remainder had problems of improper registration.

Pantami further stated that while obtaining a SIM card might be optional, NIN is mandatory, citing Section 27 of the NIMC Act of 2007.

He said it is a criminal offense in Nigeria to carry out business activities without first acquiring the NIN number.

He said, “The NIMC Act, clause 27 states that you need the NIN number for opening bank accounts, for insurance, land transactions, voters registration, drivers licenses.

“So, it is an offense to transact any business activity without first having your NIN.”

He said the number of enrolment centres had doubled; while number of computers had been tripled, adding that NIN will determine the number of Nigerians that had registered because of the unique number.

Pantami further noted that the cost of data provided by telecommunications companies had been halved since last year from about N1,200 per gigabyte to leas than N500 at present.

He, however, blamed some state governors for the high cost of data production by inflating the charges telecommunication firms pay state governments for right of way in installing their cables.

“Some states charge as high as N60,000 per linear metre, whereas it should not ordinarily be more than N145,” he said.

The minister said he had engaged the governors through the Nigeria Governors Forum and pleaded with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to intervene in the matter.

According to him, if the anomaly is corrected fully, GSM and telecom firms will charge cheaper for data.

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Tesla driverless car explodes after crashing into tree

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Two men have died after a Tesla vehicle, which was believed to be operating without anyone in the driver’s seat, crashed into a tree on Saturday night north of Houston, authorities said.

After the fire was extinguished, authorities located two occupants in the vehicle, with one in the front passenger seat and the other in the back seat of the Tesla

The accident came amid growing scrutiny over Tesla’s semi-automated driving system following recent accidents.

The US auto safety agency said in March it had opened 27 investigations into crashes of Tesla vehicles.

“There was no-one in the driver’s seat,” Sergeant Cinthya Umanzor of the Harris County Constable Precinct 4 said.

The 2019 Tesla Model S was travelling at high speed when it failed to negotiate a curve and went off the road, crashing into a tree and bursting into flames, local television station KHOU-TV said.

Tesla and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in January that he expected huge profits from the company’s full self-driving software, saying he was “highly confident the car will be able to drive itself with reliability in excess of human this year”.

Experts say the self-driving technology must overcome safety and regulatory hurdles to achieve commercial success.

-Reuters

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We resisted governors’ pressure to borrow for March shortfall – Zainab Ahmed

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Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said the Federal Government rejection a suggestion by state governors to borrow from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to augment the N50 billion federation account allocation committee (FAAC) shortfall in March.

She stated this on Monday while featuring on the Good Morning Nigeria programme, a daily breakfast show on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).

Recall that Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki had alleged that the FG printed N60 billion to support March federal allocation to states.

But the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, dismissed Obaseki’s claim describing it as “unfortunate and totally inappropriate.”

Ahmed said that whenever there was a reduction in federal allocation, the Federal Government would take money from some reserve accounts, adding however that in the case of March allocation which fell short by N50 billion, all state governments were asked to manage their resources.

“It is a difficult time, I can explain to you how difficult it is not just for the Federal Government but also for the states, we see increasing reduction in our FAAC revenue,” she said.

The minister also said, “In the month of March, we had a shortfall of FAAC that is almost about N50 billion and we did not have enough accrued in any of those accounts, the states to be honest wanted us to borrow from the Central Bank, but we resisted, we just told everybody to go back to live within what they had.

“So it was very surprising for us when we heard a sitting governor saying that the CBN had printed money for FAAC; that was very unfortunate because it is not true.”

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Mercedes-Benz stuns with another seven-seater crossover SUV

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A few days after Mercedes-Benz revealed what it calls the mother of all electric vehicles in the form of the sophisticated EQS luxury sedan, it has added another stunning product to the Mercedes-EQ family of cars, the EQB.

This is a seven-seater, crossover sport utility vehicle that is to the GLB-class what the EQA is to the GLA.

Car and Driver in a report quotes the premium German automaker as saying the EQB is based on the GLB crossover.

Mercedes-Benz EQ is a series of battery electric vehicles manufactured by Mercedes-Benz. The first model was previewed at the Paris Motor Show in 2016 with the Generation EQ concept vehicle.

The EQB will be launched first in China, where it debuts in a luxuriously equipped all-wheel-drive version with AMG Line styling.

Europe is to have it next in three versions: front- and all-wheel-drive models and a range-optimizing mid-level EQB.

The new vehicle will however not be released to the US market until next year.

While the sheet metal and glass are identical, the styling department under Gorden Wagener has cleaned up the exterior for a more contemporary and sophisticated look.

The front is graced by the trademark EQ headlight/fascia assembly, with a horizontal light bar stretching over the entire width.

This element is reflected on the tail end, which boasts a horizontal light strip as well.

There are EQ-specific colours and wheels, and there will be a choice of regular or AMG-Line front and rear bumpers.

The interior is carried over from the GLB as well, but it comes with EQ-exclusive color and trim options, including rose gold (pictured here), one of Wagener’s favorite colors.

Due to the battery packs in the floor, interior space suffers a bit: Daimler cautions that the third row will only work for people up to 5’5″ and the trunk shrinks considerably.

That said, the EQB is still a crossover SUV that offers more space than usual for its exterior dimensions.

The EQB was unveiled in China, and it will be launched there first as a fully loaded model with a standard AMG Line look, all-wheel drive, and two motors that make a combined 288 horsepower.

Europe will get both the EQB350 4Matic with around 268 horsepower and the front-wheel-drive EQB250 with 221 horsepower; there will also be a mid-level version designed as a long-range model. Both China and Europe will see the EQB at dealers within the 2021 calendar year.

The US will have to wait until 2022, and the company is mum about the possible powertrain options.

Car and Driver says, “What we can deduce from our experience with the EQA is that even the least powerful versions of the EQB will come in at around 4500 pounds, which we hope won’t translate into plodding, cumbersome handling characteristics, even if that would feel a bit less out of place in a people hauler like the EQB than in a compact hatch like the EQA.

“There will be no true AMG version, unlike on the EQS and the EQE. However, we’ll suspend judgment until we can drive it.”

 

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