Going Beyond NIN Check On Trains


What has having and producing a National Identity Number (NIN) got to do with being allowed to board a train and travel by rail? Well, according to the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Fidet Okhiria , NIN will be a requirement from May.

“The process of linking passengers to their NIN for improved profiling is ongoing. This layer of passenger screening will commence by May,” he said on April 14, in Abuja, adding that this would enhance the safety and security of rail users.

It is understandable that the railway authorities are making efforts to prevent a recurrence of the tragic terror attack on a train on the Abuja-Kaduna route on March 28. Gunmen blew up a section of track. The NRC said there were 362 people on board. Eight passengers were killed, 41 injured, and many were abducted. The incident was yet another sad manifestation of increasing insecurity.

“The Abuja-Kaduna Train Service will resume as soon as possible with additional security measures put in place,’’ Okhiria stated. It is unclear which additional measures he was talking about. The NIN check is inadequate.

Leaked minutes showed that Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi had, on September 24, 2021, asked the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to “approve the award of contract for the procurement and installation of electronic surveillance system and interrogation unit on the Abuja (Idu)-Kaduna (Rigasa) 200km railway monitoring rail intrusion detection system and emergency response system in favour of Messrs Mogjan Nigeria Limited/Cagewox Dot Net Limited in the sum of N3, 780,827,410.66 inclusive of 7.5 per cent VAT with a completion period of four months.”

The minutes also showed that the council, unsatisfied with the minister’s proposal, had asked him to provide certain necessary details and re-present an improved proposal on the security matter.

The horrific train attack happened more than six months after the said meeting. It seems nothing happened concerning the proposal in the period, which amounted to collective failure. What is the situation now on the proposed security equipment?

The NRC’s passenger NIN check idea cannot be an effective security measure against external attack like the one that happened on the Abuja-Kaduna route. Checking passenger NIN cannot stop external attackers.

The point is that the railway authorities and the Federal Government need to seriously focus on more effective measures to prevent more terror attacks on trains. This is an urgent issue, and should be treated with a sense of urgency.

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