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IDENTITY MANAGEMENT AND NATIONAL SECURITY: DEFINING THE PROBLEM AND OUTLINING A SOLUTION FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT IN NIGERIA

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This paper examines the predicament in Nigeria's identity management environment as a result of disparate identity databases. Data generation technique for the study was through the content analysis of secondary data from books, journals, magazines and web resources. Concepts related to identity, identity management, interoperability and law enforcement are amply explained in order to polish their meanings for better comprehension. The study reveals that there is in Nigeria a scenario of chaotic identity management where each institution that collects identity-related data manages its own, and there is no effective synergy to coordinate the identity management silos which are scattered all over. The conclusion drawn from the study is that there is need to harmonize identity-related data from public institutions that collect such data in order to reduce identity crisis, guarantee interoperability and derive the full benefits which identity management offers.
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IDENTITY MANAGEMENT AND NATIONAL SECURITY: DEFINING THE
PROBLEM AND OUTLINING A SOLUTION FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT IN
NIGERIA
Ayamba, Itojong Anthony
Department of Public Administration
University of Calabar
Calabar- Nigeria
Email: talk2ayamba@gmail.com
Phone: 08064028050
Omini, Ubi Ubi
Department of Public Administration
University of Calabar
Calabar- Nigeria
Email: ubiomini55@gmail.com
Phone: 08064897445
ABSTRACT
This paper examines the predicament in Nigeria’s identity management
environment as a result of disparate identity databases. Data generation
technique for the study was through the content analysis of secondary data from
books, journals, magazines and web resources. Concepts related to identity,
identity management, interoperability and law enforcement are amply explained
in order to polish their meanings for better comprehension. The study reveals
that there is in Nigeria a scenario of chaotic identity management where each
institution that collects identity-related data manages its own, and there is no
effective synergy to coordinate the identity management silos which are
scattered all over. The conclusion drawn from the study is that there is need to
harmonize identity-related data from public institutions that collect such data in
order to reduce identity crisis, guarantee interoperability and derive the full
benefits which identity management offers.
KEYWORDS: Identity, Identity Crisis, Identity Management, Interoperability,
Law Enforcement, National Security.
INTRODUCTION
Before the advent of Western colonialism, Nigeria had consisted of over
450 linguistic ethnic groups, each of which was independent of the other,
having its own values, culture, religion, politics and economic activity. It was
the British colonialists that lumped these groups together under one political
umbrella and called it “Nigeria” (Nnoli, 1978: 35-105). In order that these
disparate groups could coexist in harmony so as to enable the colonialists
comfortably exploit the natural resources of the territory, the British imposed
on the people their mores, culture, education, art, language and religion.
Nigerian cultural and social values were presented as archaic and
anachronistic, which must be discarded and replaced with Western culture
(Eze, 2014). This resulted in an identity crisis.
Identity can be defined as the name or essential character that identifies
somebody or something; the fact or condition of being the same or exactly
alike. Moreover, it can be said to be the set of characteristics that somebody
recognizes as belonging uniquely to himself or herself and constituting his or
her individual personality for life. Landahl (2007) defines identity as the “the
collective aspect of the set of characteristics by which a thing is definitively
recognized or known.” A person’s identity is who he is. So, an identity crisis is
when an individual either loses track of who he is or does not feel happy with
who he is and wants to change his life or restructure it. Identity management,
on the other hand, implies a set of data management systems and practices
that serve to increase confidence in the identity of individuals where
appropriate. It is also said to be the set of principles, practices, policies,
processes and procedures that are used to realize the desired outcomes related
to identity (NIMC, 2007).
There is a consensus that poor identity management remains one of the
greatest obstacles to development in many nations, particularly the developing
ones (Pang & Lips, 2008; Adjei, 2013; Ayamba, 2016). With particular reference
to Nigeria, the lack of an effective, organized and centralized identity
management system has been recognized as a major single cause of crime,
cases of impersonation, acts of terrorism, ethno-religious crises, poverty,
rigorous checks in public and private institutions, illegal immigration, financial
transaction fraud, queues at passport offices, ghost-workers syndrome, election
irregularities, among others. Thus, it is widely believed that ineffective identity
management is one of the banes of Nigerian nationhood and also a serious
challenge to national security. The purpose of this paper is, therefore, to begin
the discussion of how identity management can enhance national security,
particularly law enforcement in Nigeria. It is intended to examine the scope of
the problem and frame the elements of potential solutions.
DEFINING THE PROBLEM
The identity management capability gap for national security is a
pervasive but solvable problem. The key question remains how advantageous is
it to have a single national system of identifying citizens in order to achieve the
legitimate business of government, namely: peace and security, law
enforcement, intelligence, social and economic development, etc. At the
moment, Nigeria cannot boast of a central national identity repository and the
complementary systems to sustain secure and reliable identity verification and
authentication. That is why it is easy for some Nigerians to obtain identity
cards with different names, which often result to high incidence of identity
fraud. To make matters worse, government agencies notably National Pension
Commission (PENCOM), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigeria
Immigration Service (NIS), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC),
National Population Commission (NPC), National Health Insurance Scheme
(NHIS), Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), just to mention a few, hold
databases with no practical integrated access and data sharing option in place
to enhance service delivery nor facilitate law enforcement and security. Some of
these institutions have introduced smart card technology into their schemes.
Thus, a reliable system for verification and secure authentication of an
individual’s identity has not been established (NIMC, 2007).
Unarguably, Nigeria has suffered great losses through many forms of
economic and financial crimes, human trafficking, and insecurity including
insurgency, militancy and terrorism, because at present, it is difficult to
ascertain the identity of the perpetrators of such security breaches. On
November 14, 2016, Interpol, an international law enforcement institution,
agreed to connect the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),
National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Nigeria Immigration Service
(NIS), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), National Agency for the Prohibition of
Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), National Agency for Food, Drug Administration
and Control (NAFDAC) to its database tool known as I-24/7. The database can
be used for tracking wanted persons, stolen vehicles, artifacts, missing persons
and transnational criminals. Nigeria has been a member of the Interpol since
1959.
The National Identity Management Commission was established in 2007
to not only provide General Multi-Purpose Card otherwise known as national
identity card for all Nigerians, but to most importantly, provide a centralized
national identity database. With such national identity management system in
place, it should be easy for law enforcers to identify law breakers, perpetrators
of crimes and those that breach peace and security in the state. But, most
Nigerians and legal residents that have enrolled in the scheme still do not have
proper documentation. Rather, they carry about different forms of
identifications like voter’s card, driver’s license, international passport, school
identity card, work identity card and so on, which are indicative of disparate
databases and unorganized identity ecosystem. Even recently, the National
Identity Management Commission contested the legal right of the Bank
Verification Number (BVN) program in Nigeria to register citizens using
biometric information, claiming the dominant role in identification matters. An
agreement was eventually reached to harmonize the databases.
Thus, if Interpol’s move, for example, to link Nigeria’s security and law
enforcement agencies to its database will have maximum effect, our own
identity management problem which is that of lack of a central identity (data)
repository must first be dealt with.
METHODOLOGY
Data generation technique for the study was through the content
analysis of secondary data from books, journals, magazines and web resources.
Concepts related to identity, identity management, interoperability and law
enforcement are amply explained in order to polish their meanings for better
comprehension. Hence, the study is purely exploratory and the analysis
qualitatively done.
LITERATURE REVIEW
Alubo (2009) asserts that identity is a blend of socio-cultural qualities
which an individual shares, or is presumed to share, with others on the
premise of which one group may be differentiated from others. Identity is a
group idea that depends on characteristics which make people members of a
group; such attributes likewise give reactions to the inquiry, "Who am I?"
Identity has a blend of ethnic, religious, gender, class and different layers all of
which allude to the same individual either in self-definition or as characterized
by others. Thus, within the context of this study, identity can be defined as the
arrangement of qualities by which a man or thing is absolutely distinct or
known. It can likewise be said to be the mindfulness that an individual or
group has of being an unmistakable, persisting entity.
In his own contribution, Thuan (2007) defines identity management as
"the procedure, strategies and innovations used to oversee the complete
lifecycle of client personalities over a framework and to control client access to
the framework assets by associating their rights and restrictions.” Within the
context of this work, identity management can be said to be an administrative
framework that is concerned with identifying people in a system (for example, a
country, a system, or an enterprise) and controlling their access to resources in
that system.
Wikipedia (2015) sees law enforcement as any framework by which a few
individuals from society act in a way to implement the law by finding,
preventing, rehabilitating, or sanctioning individuals who disregard the norms
and standards of that society. Law enforcement agencies are institutions set up
by law to maintain internal security of the state (Ehindero, 2006). Within the
context of this work, therefore, law enforcement refers to the counteractive
action and discipline of wrongdoings; furthermore, those associations or
organizations that exist to debilitate a wide variety of criminal and non-criminal
infringements of norms and standards, effected through the imposition of
penalty or punishment.
National Security revolves around the idea of protection of the nation and
its interest (Obiunu & Ebunu, 2013). The concept developed mostly in the
United States after World War II. National security means protection from
threats or attacks to citizens, organizations or country which in turn impact on
the wellbeing of a nation and its citizen as a whole. The symbiotic relationship
between identity management and national security cannot be undermined;
and there has been growing global sensitivity and concern with regards to the
impact of identity crisis and its management on national security. Hence,
countries across the globe have adopted different approaches to set up their
identity management system. Al-Khouri (2012) asserts that the rationale
behind such initiatives is to enhance the identity authentication and validation
mechanisms in order to reduce crime, combat terrorism, eliminate identity
theft, control immigration, curtail economic fraud, and provide better service to
both citizens and legal residents. The type of identification and the purposes for
which it is used varies from country to country. While some countries have
plastic national identity cards, others simply have electronic national
identification number that is usually issued to citizens and legal immigrants
after completion of biometric and demographic registration processes.
Wang (2003) gives instances and the goal of identity management in
some countries. In Kenya, the national identity card is required to obtain a job,
get married, acquire or sell land, or register to vote. In Spain, employees on
contractual arrangement must use the national identity card issued to them to
demonstrate work eligibility, and it also is used for the health care system. In
Belgium, citizens and legal residents of fifteen years and above are required to
carry their national identity card at all times. The card is used for banking,
billing, rental agreements, proof of age when buying alcohol and cigarettes, or
entering an adult-only business. A police officer can ask to see the card of
anyone in a public space and does not need to have any particular justification.
National identity card is required for SIM-card registration in Peru, Ghana,
Bangladesh, Kenya and Pakistan. In Uganda, Pakistan, Tanzania and Kenya,
national identity cards double as “passports.” In 2002, Japan launched a
mandatory nationwide system whereby every citizen is assigned an 11 digit
identification number. The Japanese national identity database stores personal
data such as name, address, date of birth, place of birth and gender. According
to the Japanese government, the introduction of the national identification
scheme was expected to streamline the unwieldy paperwork system (Obi,
2006).
Generally, developed countries tend to use identity management schemes
for surveillance and security to a great extent than developing countries (Gelb
& Clark, 2013). Security challenges, nevertheless, drive developing countries
into the creation and application of identity management systems. Indonesia,
Malaysia and Kenya, to illustrate, cite terrorism as a motivation behind the
development of their identity management programmes (Kenyatta, 2015; King,
2012). Uganda’s National Security and Information Service states that one of
the key services to be added to its forthcoming national identity is “immigration
services,” including border crossings (National Security Information System,
2015). Moroccan national identity card carries security features that are aimed
at “control of migration flows” (Rutherford, 2008). Tanzania’s new identity
management system is geared towards smoother coordination across police,
immigration authorities, the country’s revenue service, and other government
agencies by allowing them “to share data and differentiate between Tanzanians,
migrants and refugees” (Makoye, 2013).
Instances of national identity cards that double as passports are due to
agreement between East African Community (EAC) member states to allow
international travel among member states. Hence, citizens of Kenya, Tanzania,
and Uganda can all travel between the five-member EAC using only their
respective national identity cards. Lastly, as governments seek to cut down on
the ability of extremists and criminals to use cell phones to conduct illegal and
nefarious activities like kidnapping, financial scams, money laundering and so
on, some have turned to using identity cards for mobile phone and SIM
registrations (Hickock, 2013). In Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, Pakistan, and
Peru, national identity card is now required in order to buy a cell phone or
swap SIM cards. In Nigeria, the National Identification Number (NIN) is a must-
have for every citizen of sixteen years and above and legal residents who have a
stay period of not less than two years. A lot of other information like home
address, next of kin, phone number, date of birth, place of birth, parent’s
information, DNA information, criminal record, height, marital status and even
employment record of people are tied to the number. Hence, a complete life
history of a person can be pulled from the computer (by authorized government
officials) using his national identification number (Omoniyi, 2012).
Although numerous studies have been conducted on the impact of
identity management programmes across the world (example Al-Khouri (2012);
Anderson, Biscaye, Coney, Ho, Hutchinson, Neidhardt & Reynolds (2016);
Ayamba (2016)), researchers are just beginning to focus attention on its role in
effective public administration, with special reference to the law enforcement
context. Indeed, this work represents the first serious attempt to do so in the
Nigerian context. Thus, the contributions in this study represent a modest
attempt to analyze some of the challenges of identity management along with
the prognosis for action.
THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
Many identity crisis and identity management models and perspectives
have been put forward by different scholars. An important aspect of these
proposals is the need to ensure the cooperation of all stakeholders within the
identity ecosystem. Clifford Geertz’ classical model theory titled “Integrative
Revolution” and Robert Merton’s Functionalist Perspective”, for instance, were
employed in an evaluative study by Ayamba (2016) entitled Evaluation of the
National Identity Management Policy in Nigeria.” The classical model theory
offers a clarification for the troubles in nation-building in the new states and
then again, how the issue can be overcome. Geertz differentiates "primordial"
ties which are affinities in light of the "given" of life which appear to stream
more than natural than rational choice (blood and family relationship ties,
tribe, district, religion) and "civil" ties which are affinities based on economic
grouping (class, status, professional group).
Geertz (1963) begins his argument by suggesting that the people of new
states are driven by two overwhelming yet contradicting elements- the need to
be acknowledged as people with particular cravings and the need to build a
vibrant modern state. He points out that on the one hand, people in new states
are in search of an identity and an affirmation of the self that is publicly
acknowledged. The other aim is pragmatic- the need for effective political
institutions, social justice and prosperity. He further argues that although
these two entities are deeply entwined, they are innately different as they arise
from different sources and respond to different pressures.
More importantly, Geertz (1963) notes that the underlying problem faced
by new states, as societies, is that they are vulnerable to estrangement based
on primordial attachments. According to him, primordial attachments stem
from the ‘givens’ of the social existence of humans. This notion of ‘given-ness’ is
defined as immediate similarity, kin connection and being naturally introduced
to a specific group and culture (Bacova, 1998). The force of primordial
connections varies from individual to individual, from group to group and from
a certain time period to another. Yet, Geertz (1963) argues that for each person,
in every society, at all times a few connections are derived from a feeling of a
characteristic, practically profound proclivity rather than from social contract.
Geertz (1963) argues that these attachments, under certain conditions
lead to conflicts that can destroy civil society. Therefore, national unity is
preserved not only by invoking loyalty to the state, but this is further
complemented by ideological campaigns and legislation promulgated by
government. He articulates that the tensions that arise as a result of a direct
conflict between primordial and civil sentiments results in problems of
parochialism and communalism faced by the new states.
Applied to this work, the crisis of identity in Nigeria is explained by the
predominance of primordial sentiments. As opposed to the desires of
proponents of the detribalization proposition, expanding modernization has
increased the significance of these sentiments. This is the paradox of African
advancement which fuels the crisis of national identity. Forceful integration or
amalgamation of different groups or nations has always resulted in the
emergence, fortification and broadening of social and political articulation of
cultural pluralism (group identities based on ethnicity, religion, dialect, race,
and region) (Young, 1990).
Thus, in the context of Nigeria, individual and social identities are
regularly in strain with each other as individuals look for both individuation
and inclusion (monetary, political and social) all of which can worsen the
danger of violence and fear. Identity conflict is frequently a struggle for
ownership of the state and control of its assets. The competition for the scarce
resources is exacerbated when the state actively controls the distribution of
important resources. Conflicts of identity are likely to heighten when groups
and/or group members consider that the acknowledgment given a contender
identity can undermine their own. Additionally, entrepreneurs or elites whose
domestic backings are unsure or undermined can manipulate identities and
create myths to be certain of political loyalty. These examples give impetus to
the fact that the spectre of primordial sentiments continues to be a perplexing
conundrum even in today’s Nigeria. As Nigeria is characterized by diverse
cultures and a heterogeneous social structure, one of the ongoing challenges
faced by its political leaders continue to be the issue of integrating primordial
sentiments to the framework of national politics.
Robert Merton’s Functionalist Perspective
From this theoretical perspective, Merton differentiates between the
kinds of roles inside every social structure- manifest functions and latent
functions. He and other functionalists view society as an organism with
different parts, and every part has a role to play. He perceived that some
functions were purposeful and others were not. He additionally recognized that
some functions really upset society. These functions are known as the manifest
and latent functions and dysfunctions.
The functionalist point of view states that society is a complex system
whose parts cooperate to advance the dependability and survival of society. The
parts, or the structures, of society, for example, the education system, criminal
justice system, identity administration framework and financial system, all
have a function, or work, to perform. When all parts are playing out their
functions effectively, society all in all runs smoothly. Be that as it may, if one
section is not working accurately, there will be an antagonistic response in
society. Merton drew attention to the fact that all parts of society have different
functions which they perform. Some of these functions are evident and others
are not really self-evident. He differentiates between the two by expressing that
the recognized and intended functions were the manifest functions and the
unrecognized and unintended functions were the latent functions (Elwell,
2009).
These postulates can now be related to this work by identifying a few of
the manifest and latent functions that apply to identity management in Nigeria.
Many people enroll for national identification number (NIN) because 1) they
need the NIN for identification; and 2) to be able to pick up their national
general multi-purpose card (GMPC) from the National Identity Management
Commission (NIMC) when ready. So when asked, what is the function of NIN,
one may quickly think 'to get an identity or identification.' This is correct, but
the identification is the product of going to enroll, not the function of NIMC.
The function of NIMC is to serve as the primary institutional, supervisory,
regulatory and legal framework to help organize the identity sector in Nigeria.
Hence, a manifest function, an intended or obvious job of NIMC, is to manage
the identity database in Nigeria.
There are many other functions of a national identity management
system like facilitation of law enforcement or bringing about interoperability
in data silos in public and private institutions. So if asked why get NIN, how
many can say 'to facilitate law enforcement’ and 'to bring about interoperability
in data silos in public and private institutions'? Not many, assuming any.
However, these are latent functions - the unintended or not really clear
functions - of a national identity management system.
Deloine and Mclean Information System Success Model
Because national identity management goes beyond individual
organizations within the ecosystem to become a societal issue, Deloine and
Mclean Information System Success Model, nevertheless, was adapted for this
study by examining the definition of the dimensions of identity management
applicable to law enforcement. The following constructs are proposed:
i. System quality must not only consider performance characteristics,
functionality, and ease of use of the system but also the skill set of the
people, availability of documentation and the reliability of the processes.
This is in line with the definition of information systems, which is the
combination of technology, people, procedures and processes (O'Brien &
Marakas, 2010).
ii. Information is said to be of good quality when it is useful, timely, cost
effective, reliable and understandable. This is a critical factor in identity
management systems, and plays a prominent role in affecting how all the
stakeholders in the identity ecosystem trust the system and each other
(Schaupp, 2006; Petter, 2008).
iii. Institutional cooperation: This describes the aspects of key stakeholders
working together to ensure interoperable laws, technologies, systems and
standards. This type of collaboration also leads to effective
communication, compliance with standards within the identity
ecosystem and effective service delivery.
The point to note is that where there is a positive perception of trust and
privacy among the stakeholders in an identity ecosystem, and the services they
provide, it can engender collaborative environment and more innovative use of
personal information for secondary purposes. Hence, a good national
identification system is a key requirement for effective execution of public
policies and programmes that facilitate crime control, tax administration,
immigration and passport system, motor vehicle administration, road safety
and administration of criminal justice.
The justification for the use of eclectic approach in the theoretical
framework for this study is that the Classical Model Theory does not
sufficiently explain the role structures play in identity management, but it
explains clearly the identity crisis situation in the system; whereas the
Functionalist Perspective is relevant because it explains the role identity
management structures play in identity issues. The Deloine and Mclean
Information System Success Model further explains the secondary use of
identity information and how its effective use can facilitate other functions
such as law enforcement and national security. Within this context, it can be
said that where institutions responsible for identity management fail to perform
their functions, identity crisis can be aggravated. Hence, Clifford Geertz’s
Classical Model theory- “integrative revolution” can be criticized on the ground
that it only explains part of the riddle which is ‘identity crisis’, and does not
adequately explain the measures put in place by the system to contain or
control the crisis of identity which in this case is ‘identity management’, and
which Robert Merton’s Functionalist Perspective and Deloine and Mclean
Information System Success Model cover. For that particular gap, this study
can be properly situated within the philosophy of the three theories.
Figure 1- Framework of analysis of Identity crisis and Identity management
Source: Author’s configuration
Clifford Geertz’s
Classical Model Theory
Robert Merton’s
Functionalist Perspective
Deloine and Mclean
Information System Success
Model
ELEMENTS OF IDENTITY MANAGEMENT SOLUTION
In this section, some common identity management failures are identified
and explained as the elements of a potential solution. In the paragraphs that
follow, the three elements of potential identity management solution are
discussed.
i. Authentication
Some authors describe authentication as the process of checking a claim or
assertion made by a person about their identity, such as confirming that a
person making a bank transaction is indeed the account owner” (Crompton,
2004). Authentication is the process of verifying that a user is who he/she
claims to be. To gain access to services and resources, the individual makes a
verifiable identity claim by either logging into a system with a given credential,
knowledge of certain information, or based on biometric data. There are many
authentication methods with different levels of assurances, also referred to as
authentication factors, such as: something the user knows (i.e. Password);
something the user has (i.e. Smart card or passport) and or something the user
is (i.e. Biometrics) (Thuan, 2007). Within the Nigerian context, it is the National
Identification Number, otherwise known as NIN. NIN is made up of eleven (11)
digits and is very unique to the owner or bearer in the sense that no two
persons can have the same NIN. Identity management systems should
therefore be a reliable means of identification and authentication of individuals
in order to offer them and secondary users of identity data such as law
enforcers authorized access to resources.
ii. Interoperability
The United States Homeland Security Department defines interoperability as
“the ability of emergency responders and identity data collectors to work
seamlessly with other systems or products without any special effort.” For
Miller (2000), interoperability is, “the ability of processes and systems to
effectively exchange and use information services” (2000: 259). Moen (2000)
provides a similar but richer definition seeing it as “the ability of different types
of computers, networks, operating systems, and applications, to exchange
information in a useful and meaningful manner” (2000: 129). A major challenge
regarding interoperability in the Nigerian context is the requirement for
interoperable identity management policies and standards. The following
remarks typifies such frustration:
Why can’t I present my driver’s license as proof of identity for
voting in an election, if I misplace my voter ID card; and why
can’t I present my voter ID as proof of my qualification to drive,
if the police stops me whilst driving? In any case, all these
documents bear my name and other details and I have not
travelled outside the country?
Thus, in Nigeria, challenges of interoperability relate to a lack of clear, legal
framework, trust and delegation of responsibilities among institutions in the
identity ecosystem. Recently, in Nigeria, the legal right of the Bank Verification
Number (BVN) program instituted by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to
register citizens using biometric information was contested by the National
Identity Management Commission (NIMC) who claimed the dominant role in
identification matters. An agreement was later reached by both parties to
harmonize the databases (Udunze, 2015). This clearly shows that public
institutions in Nigeria, even the ones that render strategic services, are either
yet to or too slow to fully understand and appreciate the benefits they stand to
gain if identity/biometric databases are harmonized.
iii. Data storage/retrieval and promulgation
Data storage/retrieval and promulgation is the ability to store or link to data in
a manner that it can be brought forward for utilization in other processes
(Landahl, 2007). An identity management system for improved law enforcement
response must include the capability to store or link data in a manner that can
be distributed to and utilized by security/surveillance institutions and law
enforcers. A properly structured and effective identity management system
would provide real-time usable data to incident commanders and law enforcers
in order for them to respond to critical issues that border on their job.
FUNCTIONS LINKED TO IDENTITY MANAGEMENT PROGRAMMES: LAW
ENFORCEMENT AND NATIONAL SECURITY IN FOCUS
As long as we persist with a 17th century notion of national sovereignty, an 18th
century judiciary and 19th century law enforcement, the 21st century will belong
to organized crime."
(Jeffrey Robinson)
Central to effective secondary uses of identity information for other
functions such as law enforcement, national security and surveillance is an
efficient civic registration system, a regulatory framework that encourages
institutional collaboration, clear policies and guidelines that provide assurance
of citizens' privacy and cost effective application systems (Adjei, 2013). National
identity management programmes have been purposed to serve a wide range of
functions, including financial services, law enforcement, health, and
agriculture. In addition, identity management programmes can be valuable in
elections, facilitating government social transfers, surveillance and security,
aiding civil service administration, and supporting other functions such as
travelling across jurisdictions (International Telecommunications Union, 2016).
Generally, a sound national identity management system improves public
confidence and strengthens national security. It helps tackle people trafficking,
illegal working and immigration. It also helps protect citizens from the risk of
identity fraud, and ensures easier and more convenient access to public
services.
Under Nigeria’s national identity management system, the National
Identity Management commission (NIMC) is expected to create, operate and
manage the national identity database which will serve as a central source of
identity verification and authentication. The verification infrastructure will be
available to the stakeholders and strategic partners like the Immigration, Road
Safety, Customs, Central Bank, Pension Commission, Population Commission,
Electoral Commission, Police, and several others. The national identity
database is based on the use of fingerprint biometrics to uniquely and
unambiguously identify each individual and thereafter issue a unique
identification number to each verified individual, which would be common
across the other databases. Through this scheme, other databases would be
harmonized with the national identity database to achieve an integrated
identity-base system (NIMC, 2015).
For an institution like the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC),
harmonization of its database with NIMC’s database could bring about
improvement in road safety by keeping unauthorized drivers off the road. This
is because reliance on a central national identity infrastructure will facilitate
easy verification for uniqueness of the applicant in the database and by so
doing reduce turn-around time needed for the processing of licenses. It can
also guarantee the availability of traffic violation history to all relevant
authorities, thereby increasing driver accountability.
The Nigeria Immigration Service on August 1st, 2017 announced that
from January 2018, the National Identification Number (NIN) will be a
mandatory requirement or perquisite for application for international passport
(The Nation Newspaper, 2017). Persons without NIN will not be issued Nigerian
passports from the effective date (same applies to renewals). Any foreigner,
non-Nigerian (legal) resident in Nigeria will not get his permit renewed until he
has a NIN. To achieve this, National Identification Numbers (NIN) and passport
numbers will be harmonized. A central national identity database could further
facilitate the job of the Nigeria Immigration Service in the following ways:
i. Fast and reliable clearance on border checks which will in turn eliminate
bottleneck situations.
ii. Reduction in trans-border crime and illegal immigration.
iii. It guarantees better security screening.
iv. It facilitates quick processing of travel documents for citizens.
v. It can help eliminate fraudulent application and duplicate passport
issuance.
Prison managers like the Nigeria Prisons Service could derive the
following benefits from harmonizing its biometric data with the national
identity database:
i. Elimination of duplicate booking entries in prisons.
ii. Elimination of identity fraud.
iii. Identification of the inmates’ visitors.
iv. Tracking of inmates movement while in prison and on parole.
v. Safeguarding of the public by ensuring the release or freeing of the right
person.
vi. Instant access to information about offender population and facility use.
vii. Provision of intelligent information used to identify security risks and
criminal activities.
The police as a major law enforcement institution in Nigeria stands to
gain a lot from a central national identity database such as the repository
developed by the National Identity Management Commission, because such a
system results in unique identification of a person or persons in a particular
place and time.
Figure 2: Central Database
Source: Author’s configuration
In countries like the United States of America and the United Kingdom,
the security agencies deploy forensic approach in investigations and this
usually produces good results, no matter how long it takes. However, this
approach to crime fighting is only possible where there are available biometric
records that can be readily pulled from a repository or database. Most crimes
are committed with the aid of telephone calls, and these calls are made at
locations and with the aid of communication masts. Each caller has an
identity, time and duration of call and each mast is configured with a unique
identification stating their location. With the centrality of citizens’ identity data,
the police can easily collaborate with NIMC and the mobile network service
providers in order to dig deep into crimes, identify the associates, apprehend
them, prosecute them and bring them to justice.
Thus, biometric systems are currently used by a range of government
agencies in Nigeria to establish and verify a person’s identity with greater
accuracy. This has increased benefits for national security, law enforcement,
border management and service delivery outcomes. The utility of biometric
systems can be enhanced through the ability, where reasonably necessary, to
share biometric data between agencies and to verify data against other agency
holdings. Enhancing the interoperability of biometric systems between
government agencies in Nigeria has a range of potential benefits, including:
improving Nigeria’s identity security by establishing unique identity records
that are more stable, more durable and less susceptible to interference or
duplication than those based on biographical or other forms of personal
information;
• combating criminal and other national security threats by enhancing the
ability of law enforcement agencies to identify persons of interest;
facilitating greater online service delivery by providing agencies with
increased confidence in enrolment and authentication processes; and
generating operational or cost efficiencies through sharing information and
expertise in the development and implementation of biometric systems,
including developing standards, systems evaluation, capability development
and joint procurement.
CONCLUSION
This paper has essayed an overarching view of identity management
research, setting out distinctive perspectives of identity management systems
that facilitate law enforcement, security and surveillance. From all indications
and from whichever perspective one looks at it, there is in Nigeria a scenario of
chaotic identity management where each institution that collects identity-
related data manages its own, and there is no effective synergy to coordinate
the identity management platforms which are scattered all over. This, arguably,
aggravates identity crisis. Until that effective and reliable synergy is established
which would coordinate all other identity management infrastructures and
subunits, and subsume them under it, public funds will continue to be wasted
unnecessarily on identity management projects and programmes with little or
no result.
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