To control bloated school rows, exam malpractices –President Bio urges speedy issuance of NIN to pupils

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NCRA Director General, Mohamed Massaquoi presenting the National ID Card to President Bio

By Alfred Korma

President Bio has yesterday 30th January, launched the Biometric National Identity Cards and urged the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) to expedite the assignment of NIN numbers to pupils in other to control bloated school rows and examination malpractice.

Following the launching yesterday, NCRA has now commenced production and issuance of various categories of ‘scrutinized, multi-purpose Biometric Identity Cards and their verification across the country. These includes: mandatory National Identity Cards and Non mandatory ECOWAS ID Cards for Sierra Leoneans; mandatory Non-National ID Cards for all foreign residents in Sierra Leone and Non-mandatory ECOWAS ID Cards for members states of ECOWAS.

 Sierra Leoneans who are within the ages of 12 and above are eligible to receive the National Identity Cards while children under 12 years will be given ID Certificates.

The documents are mandatory to access services including transaction with financial institutions, vehicle registration and licensing, recruitment into public and private institutions for consistency in personal information and verification.

They are expected ensure proper and reliable identification, authentication and consistency in personal information of individuals.

The introduction of the biometric data system will enhance accountability and transparency in governance and provides Sierra Leoneans opportunity to transition into full biometric voter system that ensures citizens are granted their rights to vote, President Bio said while launching the ID Cards, urging citizens to ensure they have them. 

 “Putting in place strong data protection and management measures is critical for preserving personal rights and liberty within the country’s democracy, he added, I’m pleased that that has been considered in putting national identity together.”

He went on to disclosed that government is also working with development partners through cabinet to deliver a comprehensive Data Protection Bill that meets best international standards to Parliament.

In his statement, NCRA, Director General, Mohamed M Massaquoi said the country’s ID system is one of the best in the sub-region, saying the ID Cards are consistent with ECOWAS and other international standards.

The ID Cards are accessible in all the regions across the country in designated locations in Freetown and the Regional Headquarter towns in Bo, Kenema, Makeni and Port Loko, NCRA Boss said.

Holders of the Identity Cards would have to pay and the cost varies depending on the category demanded. The cost for the national ID which will last for five years is NLE140 while the ECOWAS ID cost NLE240 with one year valid period. For non-Sierra Leoneans or citizens of other ECOWAS Members States, the ECOWAS ID is sold at NLE400 and will last for one year.

Pupils from various schools, top government officials and representatives of the international community, including Bank of Sierra Leone Governor, the Chief Minister, Internal Affairs Minister; ECOWAS and UNDP representatives witness the launching of Sierra Leone’s first biometric identity system.

The Bank Governor who spoke on behalf of the financial sector said the ID Cards are vital for identification of persons with duplicating names in the country and will help curtail the unnecessary expenditure government often suffers in public offices.

The Identification system will benefit women more. It will help business women who are engaged in cross border trading, says Haja Marie B Kandeh, President, Market Women Association, commending NCRA for decentralizing the issuance of the Identity Cards.

The production and verification of the Cards is done in collaboration with the Constrat System SL Limited who manufactured them on a public private partnership basis.

Among the features of the national identity cards is a unique National Identification Number (NIN) mandatory for access to almost all public services. Last year, the National Telecommunications Commission ordered all mobile network companies to integrate SIM numbers of their customers with NIN, demanding that those subscribers whose SIM Cards are not registered be blocked.

The Government of Sierra Leone is also working to make NIN mandatory for pupils, especially those taking public examinations and the President has further urged that the numbers be speedily assigned to pupils to control the ‘persistent problem of bloated school rows and examination malpractices.’

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