Tobechukwu Ndunagu, Lead Associate
From 1 March 2023, the National Identification Number (NIN) shall be the only acceptable mode of identification for all processes to be filed at the Corporate Affairs Commission (“CAC” or “the Commission”). Consequently, applicants shall be required to enter their NIN in the appropriate fields on the appropriate online-application form provided via the CAC portal.
Initially, the CAC had communicated an earlier commencement date of Thursday 1 December 2022. The notice was first published by the CAC on its website and social media handles on 21 November 2022. Subsequently, by another notice issued on 9 December 2022, the CAC had further extended the commencement date of the new policy to 1 January 2023.
National Identity Number Card as Means of Identification for Company Registration
On 26 October 2017, the National Identity Management Commission (“NIMC”), established under the National Identity Management Commission Act, 2007 (the “NIMC Act”) released the Mandatory Use of the National Identification Number Regulations, 2017 (the “NIN Regulations”).
The NIN Regulations, made and issued by virtue of the Act, have far-reaching effects on the day-to-day activities of every Nigerian and every person residing in Nigeria.
The Mandatory Use of the NIN and Consequences of Non-Registration
In accordance with section 27(1)(l) of the NIMC Act, the NIN Regulation in Rule 1(1)(s) extended the mandatory use of the NIN to registration of companies, sole proprietorships, partnerships and nonprofit organizations. It also extends to other post-incorporation documentation with the CAC.
In light of the above, the NIN Regulation in Rule 1(2)(a) further mandates the CAC (and other government agencies listed in the Regulation) to require any person transacting with the CAC to produce his or her NIN.
Before the new CAC policy, the valid means of identification of shareholders, directors, and witnesses acceptable to the CAC for registration of a company were federal government-issued means of identification. These are the data-page of the applicant’s international passport, birth certificate, driver’s license, permanent voter’s card, or the national identity card.
But with the new CAC policy, effective from 1 March 2023, only the NIN Card will be acceptable as a valid means of identification of any person (shareholder or director) seeking to register a company or other organizations in Nigeria.
Section 30(1)(a) of the NIMC Act makes it an offense for a registrable person not to register and obtain the NIN. Such a person is liable on conviction to a fine of not less than N100,000 or imprisonment for a term of not less than 6 months, or both fine and imprisonment.
What is NIN?
The NIN is a set of numbers assigned to an individual upon successful enrolment by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC). The enrolment consists of the recording of an individual’s demographic data and capture of the ten (10) fingerprints, head-to-shoulder facial picture, and digital signature. The data collected are used to cross-check existing data in the National Identity Database to confirm that there is no previous entry of the same data.
NB: The NIN should be closely guarded by individuals and not revealed to all and sundry except to relevant authorities when requested. For instance, it shouldn’t be disclosed online, including social media. It should not also be printed along with contact details on business cards or other office stationery.
The NIN is set to be used for all transactions in Nigeria requiring identity verification. So, you’ll be using your NIN for:
- obtaining National e-ID card;
- travel (international passport application & acquisition);
- opening personal bank accounts;
- applying for driver’s license;
- obtaining Permanent Voters’ Card;
- participating in the National Health Insurance Scheme;
- payment of your taxes;
- transactions related to your contributory pension scheme;
- access to welfare and other relevant services from the Nigerian Government;
- transactions with social security implications;
- land transactions subject to the Land Use Act; and
- any other transactions NIMC may further prescribe and list in the Federal Government Gazette.
NIMC harmonizes and integrates data with various agencies across Nigeria. These agencies deal with the various services above to ensure efficient and effective coordination.
CAC’s new policy with the mandatory use of NIN on its platform is to ensure the integrity of the data collected by the CAC. “If you don’t have a NIN, it means you can’t register your company, the essence is to verify the integrity of the data we are collecting”, said the Registrar-General of the CAC, Alhaji Garba Abubakar. The statement was made by the CAC boss on Monday 28 November 2022 in Abuja FCT during the monthly reform seminar organized by the Bureau of Public Service Reform (BPSR) themed, “Current Reforms, Innovations, and Challenges of the Corporate Affairs Commission, and Their Impact on the Growth of Nigerian Economy”.
In view of the above, the NIN may replace signatures. Before now, signatures have been required of applicants for business and company registration. Essentially, the NIN may replace signatures of shareholders, directors, witnesses, and individual company secretaries.
Reasons for the New Policy to make the NIN Card mandatory
Without data security, it is difficult to ensure data integrity. It is therefore no surprise that security was pointed out by the Registrar-General of the CAC as the major reason behind making NIN mandatory. The Registrar-General stated that the CAC opted for the use of NIN because the security of the NIN Card cannot be compromised. According to the Registrar-General, NIN comes with a higher level of security compared to other means of identification such as the international passport, and driver’s license:
“If you don’t have a NIN, it means you can’t register your company. The essence is to verify the integrity of the data we are collecting …. CAC opted for NIN because its security can’t be compromised, unlike the National Identity card, passport, and driver’s license, which could easily be cloned”.
Where can Nigerians register for NIN?
The NIMC has set up registration centers in major locations in all the states of the Federation, including the Federal Capital Territory.
Will foreigners be required to present a NIN Card before registering a company or business in Nigeria?
It depends on the residence of the foreigner. A foreigner who resides overseas and uses a foreign address for company incorporation (as a shareholder, director, or witness) will not be required to present his or her NIN Card as part of incorporation requirements. But a foreigner who resides in Nigeria will be required to present a NIN Card before he or she will be able to register a company in Nigeria.
Where can foreigners register for NIN in Nigeria?
The NIMC is the federal government agency primarily responsible for the registration and issuance of NIN. NIMC is also responsible for maintaining the database of registered Nigerians and foreigners who are resident in Nigeria.
More Uses of the NIN across Government Agencies
Beyond corporate services, the NIN Regulations provide that a person would require or must provide his/her NIN in order to carry out certain transactions broadly categorized for ease of reference as follows:
The scope of this category includes operating a bank account; cashing in on financial instruments; purchase and sale of foreign currency in banks and bureau de change; documentation for loans; registration and licensing of security companies; purchase of insurance policies and tax identification.
All transactions involving the acquisition, use or transfer of land or landed properties, including tenancies.
Travel and hospitality and health care
This includes purchase of travel tickets or tokens for air, rail, road, and water transportation; boarding of aircrafts, trains, commercial vehicles, ships and boats. It also includes hospitality services; licensing for and use of health or medical services; registration for the issuance of traveling documents. Consular services and issuance of driver’s license are also included.
Information technology and Telecommunications
Purchase and registration of telephone SIM Card and other communication devices; licensing of telecommunication vendors; registration and licensing of cybercafé operators and verification of users of cybercafé services.
Purchase of Vehicles (Air, Land, and Water)
Purchase and registration of aircrafts, ships, boats, motor vehicles and motorcycles, including change of ownership thereof.
Filing of criminal and civil actions in courts or other arbitral processes and documentation of arrested and convicted persons will require a NIN.
Enrolment or registration for internal and external examinations with educational and examination boards; enrollment into primary, secondary and tertiary schools and continuous professional studies in Nigeria; registration and eligibility for bursary and other social benefits and registration and membership of professional bodies.
Recruitments for temporary and permanent employment; payment of emoluments; registration or documentation of pensioners.
Other commercial activities
Import and export of products, commodities or goods; licensing and registration of clearing and forwarding agents; any transaction, contract or agreement for a valuable consideration and for the transfer of any interest, tangible or intangible; and application for or bidding for any Local, State or Federal Government jobs or contracts and executing any contract or business agreement.
Birth documentation and other sundry services
Issuance of birth certificates; identification and registration of refugees and internally displaced persons; adoption of an infant; eligibility and documentation for provision of welfare services by government agencies and other non-governmental institutions; registration for pilgrims or provision of pilgrims services; registration of voters; obtaining and processing of probate documents
Implementation of the NIN across other government agencies
Much earlier than the CAC, some other government agencies started implementing NIN after it became mandatory for SIM-card registration in December 2020.
In the second quarter of 2021, Nigerians began using NIN to register their automobiles. The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) spokesperson, Bisi Kazeem, said the decision was made after a presidential directive.
Similarly, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) directed all potential candidates for the 2022 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME) to obtain their NIN in advance of the exercise.
In April 2022, the Nigerian government mandated telecoms companies to ban SIMs not linked to NINs.
The CAC keeps updating its processes for a faster, more efficient, and more secure registration process. This is in line with its mandate of regulating the formation and management of companies, business names, and incorporated trustees in Nigeria. CAC’s introduction of NIN for registration purposes is one of the ways the CAC wants to ensure this.
In reality, we understand it may take some time for the CAC to fully implement this mandatory NIN requirement. But it is advisable for every registrable person to take steps to register in compliance with the Act. This is not just important for individuals, but organizations as well. Organizations should also take immediate steps to ensure that their directors, shareholders, proprietors, trustees and management teams, as appropriate, obtain their NIN. This will ensure that their daily operations are not otherwise adversely affected.
At Infusion Lawyers, we are always happy to assist both individuals and organizations with CAC’s registration requirements. This includes your pre-incorporation and post-incorporation needs, for both Nigerian citizens and foreigners.
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