The latest police digital vehicle registration scheme

The Nigeria Police Force on Monday, September 9, announced that from September 16, the Force will change the process of vehicle registration from the analogue Central Motor Registry to a digital Biometric Central Motor Registration system. This was disclosed at a news conference in Abuja by the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba.

This grandiose scheme of the Nigeria Police Force will cost each motorist N3, 500 to register their vehicles while tricycles and motorcycles owners would pay N1, 500. He added that this was part of efforts in “repositioning the police to effectively tackle crimes and terror.”

Mba added, “The decision informing the introduction of Biometric Central Motor Registration is against the backdrop of contemporary security challenges bordering on terrorism, high incidence of car theft, kidnapping and other crimes.” For an agency that cannot boast of conclusive investigation and prosecution of high profile murders and assassinations in the last decade, not to talk of other unreported murders, we doubt if this will help their situation.

Nigerians are still groaning under a burdensome new driver’s license and supposedly new vehicle plate number introduced by the Federal Road Safety Commission, (FRSC). Across the country there have been complaints galore of how Nigerians cannot get these items easily or at the advertised prices. A new license is supposed to cost N6, 500 but we doubt if any person can access it at that price considering the backlog of applicants just as a new number plate is believed to now go for an amount ranging from N25, 000 to N35, 000 and yet it was supposed to cost N15, 000!

We recall the gusto with which the FRSC and the Joint Tax Board sold these two to Nigerians last year speaking of increased security too and we ask, what happened that the data generated cannot be accessed by the police who must now generate another set? Remarkably, Mba said that the Police will share the database with sister agencies and we wonder why the agency cannot access what others supposedly have presently.

One of the country’s problems is that increasingly Nigerians are being subjected to a series of schemes that are well intentioned but by flawed implementation creates an avenue to line the pockets of some individuals without achieving the lofty ideals the initiators usually claim at the inception. We recognise that this is a technological age and so the country must take maximum advantage of the good that it offers, but how many biometric registrations will Nigerians be forced to do and at what cost too? Presently the government has the national identity card scheme being handled by the National Identity Management Commission, the Independent National Electoral Commission voter’s registration too captured Nigerians’ biometrics in its last registration exercise and has promised to continue doing so, the National Communication Commission spent a huge sum of money to register sim cards of telephone subscribers and those residing in Lagos State are being asked to register again with the Lagos State Residents Registration Agency. Can’t the police access these in order to investigate crime?

Further, we ask the police: which companies bided for this biometric registration and how was the selection of the eventual contractor done? Was the bidding advertised properly before the contract was awarded? And if it is being handled directly by the police, does the agency have enough capacity to carry out the exercise to a logical conclusion? We hope also that our policemen will not use this as an excuse to come back to the roads and mount road blocks under the guise of checking for biometric registration certificate.

There are many issues that demand urgent attention of the Nigeria Police Force and clearly a biometric central motor registration is not among them. Boko Haram continues to wreak its havoc unperturbed; crime is on the upsurge in many parts of the country, just as the bad eggs in the agency are not getting fewer. These are enough to engage the officers and men. , We call on the National Assembly to rein in the police and cancel immediately this scheme which is another unnecessary burden on a traumatized citizenry.

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