By Steve Oko, Aba
It has been a tale of woes by Abians seeking to get captured by the National Identity Management to beat the deadline for the registration of their Subscriber Identification Module, SIM cards.
Residents who are yet to get the NIM registration have continued to besiege the NIM headquarters at Ogurube Layout Umuahia as well as the registration centres across the 17 Area Councils in the state.
At the NIM registration centre located within the premises of the Umuahia North Council headquarters, the story is not palatable as people are subjected to days and long hours of waiting just to get registered.
Some of them told our correspondent that they had been coming to the centre for the past one week but without success.
A woman who did not want her name mentioned confided in our Correspondent that people in charge of the exercise made financial demands from those coming for registration so as to get swift attention.
The middle-aged woman who said she had been at the centre before 7:00 am lamented that she was still on the queue up till 2:15 pm when our Correspondent came around.
She directed our Correspondent to one of the agents collecting the financial inducement for the people in case he needed “express service”.
Corroborating her narration, a 72-year old Charles Okubuiro, told our correspondent that he had been coming to the centre since Tuesday last week and only managed to get captured today (yesterday) although he was still waiting for the printout of his temporary ID card.
He said he paid N1000 after he was captured although out of his own volition.
The septuagenarian appealed to government to lessen the plight of citizens seeking to get registered.
When our Correspondent pretended to have come for registration and approached the said agent for assistance, he simply confirmed the information by the woman.
The said agent told our Correspondent to pay “N5000 only” and be taken into the registration room to be captured immediately.
Meanwhile, our Correspondent had earlier been denied entrance into the same room which had burglary proof and under lock as people were being taken in for capturing in batches while others were waiting outside.
When our Correspondent bluntly told the said agent that he was not ready to part with a dime because the registration was meant to be free of charge, he simply told him to wait for his turn.
After much waiting with others outside, our Correspondent succeeded in drawing the attention of the NIM officer said to be in charge of the centre through the window, pleading for a brief audience with him.
He eventually obliged that our Correspondent is allowed into the office which has three rooms with people fully packed, anxiously waiting to be captured.
When the officer who pleaded not to be mentioned as he was not permitted to talk to the press was confronted with the racketeering going on outside, he denied any knowledge of the sad development.
He said that the said agent was neither a staff of NIM nor contacted to do any ‘runs’ for them, adding that three different agencies share the apartment.
Meanwhile, another insider source who also pleaded anonymity confided in our Correspondent that the congestion at the centre was a result of the breakdown of one of the two computer sets at the centre.
” We have only two computer sets here and one packed up since but it’s yet to be repaired.
” The only functional one is over 12 years old. We are trying our best and people should be patient with us”.