Ikenna Kalu : “NPC Officials’ Extortion Strategy Exposed”

A group of young Nigerians found themselves in a frustrating situation at the National Population Commission (NPC) office in Abuja. These youths, ranging from their late teens to early 20s, were gathered at the office on Lingu Crescent in Wuse 2, Abuja, waiting for their birth attestation and certificates.

The NPC is responsible for issuing vital life event confirmations, such as birth, death, and marriages, to Nigerians. With the recent mandate from the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) requiring a birth attestation certificate for corrections to National Identification Numbers (NIN), there has been a surge in demand for these documents.

Despite the push towards digitization, the process of obtaining birth documents at the NPC office remains arduous. Applicants are required to fill out forms, pay fees, and endure long wait times. Some applicants have reported being extorted for additional fees, beyond the official charges.

While the NPC has condemned any form of gratification or extortion by its staff, reports from applicants across the country indicate that the practice continues. Applicants in different states have reported paying extra fees for birth attestation services, with some being charged as much as N18,000.

The slow implementation of digital registration systems has also hindered the process, with many applicants resorting to physical visits to NPC offices due to the limitations of the online portal. This has created opportunities for officials to exploit desperate applicants and offer “express application” services for exorbitant fees.

Despite calls for investigations and action by anti-corruption agencies, the practice of extortion at NPC offices persists. Applicants continue to face challenges in obtaining their birth documents, with some expressing frustration over the wasted time and money involved in the process.

As the demand for birth registration services grows, it is clear that the NPC needs to address the issues of extortion and inefficiency to ensure a transparent and accessible process for all Nigerians.

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