Nigeria News

Much ado about Biometric motor registration!

Several times, when there are robberies and cars are snatched, victims of the vehicles in question don’t run to the Federal Road Safety Corp to report or seek for redress, but they run to the Police.

On the other hand, when there are such distress calls, the Police cannot run to the FRSC for immediate action, hence there is need for  the Police to have its own data readily available and that can be transmitted in the heat of the moment. That is why the Police desire to have its own records to assist it in stemming the tide of car snatching and  such other challenges.

This was the outcome of Saturday Vanguard investigation as to why the Nigerian Police Force came out with the new BCMR policy for car owners in the country which has elicited outrage across the land with many accusing the force of duplication and turning into a revenue generation agency.

CSP Frank Mba.

CSP Frank Mba.

While noting that the work of the Federal Road safety Corp was different from that of the Police, a source at Force headquarters said, the FRSC regulates vehicle registration and control while the mission behind the Police policy is strictly for security purpose and to checkmate crimes using modern scientific methods.

Explaining further, Police authorities pointed out that the new biometric registration processes of vehicles, tricycles and auto-bikes are part of new strategies meant to combat terrorism; prevent crimes; apprehend and prosecute offenders, amongst other duties.

The explanation was made even as the Force disclosed that the new policy is backed by law under Section 3, Sub-Section 2 to Sub-section 6 of the Road Traffic Act, Cap 548 and it stipulates that for purposes of data to checkmate crime, the Police shall be the licensing authority.

Force Public Relations officer, CSP Frank Mba threw more light thus, “The new policy is an upgrade and modernization from the old analogue CMR to the new Digital Biometric Central Motor Registration (BCMR) system.

“The decision informing the introduction of the BCMR comes against the backdrop of contemporary security challenges bordering on terrorism, high incidence of car theft, carjacking, kidnappings and other acts of crimes and criminality in our society” he said.

“Unlike our hitherto analogue- based procedures, the BCMR operates on smart-cards and portable hand-held receiver and is a specially developed technological means of attaching automobile owner’s unique traits and personal data to their vehicles for proper identification and protection purposes”.

The recent introduction of Digital Biometric Central Motor Registration, BCMR, by the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, has sparked another controversy. While some proponets said it is a welcome development and a way of tracking criminals in the country, opponents insisted that it amounts to duplication of efforts in view of the fact that several other agencies have enough Biometric data which can be made available for the use of the police.

Some of these documentation with similar biometrics data include the new driver’s licence by FRSC, the new vehicle plate number; the National Identity Card; and the Voter’s Registration Card, the international passport  and sim card registration.

Besides, until this moment, many seem not to fully grasp what the registration is meant to achieve just as quite a number of mortorist do not understand the new documentation system.

Under this new arrangement, all vehicles, tricycles and auto-bikes will have to be registered via the new Digital Biometric Central Motor Registration (BCMR) system, thereby discarding the old analogue system.

Explaining the rational behind the introduction of BCMR, the Force Public Relations Offficer, Force Headquarters, CSP Frank Mba, said the digital registration which commenced last Monday, is aimed at fighting crimes such as terrorism, kidnapping among others.

He said: “as part of efforts at repositioning the Nigeria Police Force to effectively and efficiently fulfill its constitutional roles of saving lives and property, combating terrorism; preventing crimes; apprehending and prosecuting offenders, amongst others.”

According to him, “the decision informing the introduction of the BCMR comes against the backdrop of contemporary security challenges bordering on terrorism, high incidence of car theft, carjacking, kidnappings and other acts of crimes and criminalities in our society.

Unlike our hitherto analogue based procedures, the BCMR operates on smart-cards and portable hand-held receiver and is a specially developed technological means of attaching automobile owner’s unique traits and personal data  to their vehicles for proper identification and protection purposes.”

He added that data gotten from this process will be used for forensic analysis.  “The BCMR will provide a one-stop information data base for all vehicle owners and serve as a strong forensic base for all manners of investigations which will greatly enhance policing operations particularly in the area of tracking down and locating positions of missing vehicles, preventing crimes, arresting criminals guaranteeing safer and a more secure use of our roads and other sundry crimes,” he stated.

On the need to change from the analogue to digitilised process, the Force’s spokeman said: “Last year, we concluded a comprehensive audit of the operations and effectiveness of the Central Motor Registration (CMR) system of recording and keeping tracks on automobiles within the country.

The audit became necessary because of the rising wave of terrorism, kidnap, robberies, theft of automobiles, and other criminalities committed with untraceable vehicles, tricycles and auto-bikes. Our findings were mind-boggling.

“To our chagrin, we found out that because the CMR is largely conducted manually and at best in some areas through analogue system, it is subject to a number of abuses ranging from extortion to outright fraud. More importantly, there are numerous cases of double registration, fake identifications, addresses, chasis and engine numbers.

This is what is responsible for the nightmares Nigerians, the Police and our sister-security institutions face when automobiles are stolen or used to commit crimes.  As part of the transformation agenda of Mr. President and, the new direction of the present leadership of the Nigeria Police Force under IGP M.D. Abubakar, to re-position the Force as an efficient civil institution, we firmly resolved that owners of automobiles in the country must enjoy the protection and safety of their property as it is done in well organized society. This is why we decided that it is time we moved from analogue means of registering automobiles to digital storage of data on all automobiles as a matter of necessity.”

How it will work

The BCMR is an advanced, digital means of storing data of automobiles. It is less cumbersome and more precise than the CMR. More importantly, it is cost effective as vehicles would be registered for Three Thousand and Five Hundred Naira only (N3,500) while tri-cycles popularly called ‘’Keke Marwa” or ‘’Keke Napep” and auto-bikes go for One Thousand and Five Hundred Naira (N1,500) only.

According to him, the BCMR has three means of registration which could be either through designated Banks, on-line or at some Police Commands. In the case of the banks, car owners pay the registration fees at the banks, collect their pin numbers and proceed to the registration points for their registration – a process that does not take more than ten minutes. You can also pay on-line, get your registration pin, commence the pre-registration by yourself, filling the details of your vehicle and personal data but the registrant would still have to get a designated registration to complete the registration process where his bio-data, photo and fingerprints would be captured. In the Police Commands and other designated formations, registrants would purchase a scratch card which would give pins to be used for registration. Vehicle owners are expected to pay N3,500.00, while tricycles popularly called “Keke Marwa” or “keke Napep” and auto-bikes go for N1,500.00.

The BCMR has three means of registration which could be either through selected Banks (Keystone Bank, UBA, Ecobank, First Bank etc), on-line or at some Police Commands. In the case of the banks, car owners pay the registration fees at the banks, collect their pin numbers and proceed to the registration points for their registration; a process that does not take more than ten minutes. You can also pay on-line, get your registration pin, commence the pre-registration by yourself, filling the details of your vehicle and personal data but the registrant would still have to get a designated Registration Centre to complete the registration process where his bio-data, photo and fingerprints would be captured.

In the Police Commands and other designated formations, registrants would purchase a scratch card which would give pins to be used for registration.

Fingerprints can be matched or verified against registered finger prints collected during registration.  It is designed to match 20 million fingerprints per seconds (the speed depends on the size of registered prints) 20 million fingerprints is equivalent to 2 million people (10 prints per person).  Facial Matching can also be achieved with Police BCMR; our database can be matched with still pictures and frames from a video stream.  The system can match 500,000 pictures per minute (if you have a registered database of 150 million, the likely match time for facial recognition is about 300 minutes (5hrs).

After registration, each automobile would have its identification numbers and cards. At any point, through a hand-held gadget, the Police can confirm a registered automobile and detect stolen automobile when stored data pops up irregularities.

On benefits of BCMR

Listing the benefits inherent in the digital registration process, Mba stated that automobiles registered with digital BCMR can be easily traced and retrieved when stolen and in case of any accident, families can be easily located as well as help to monitor and track down vehicles, especially against theft and other related crimes.

He added that BCMR would greatly assist Security Operatives in the investigations and busting of crimes especially those committed with automobiles anywhere in the country since there is a scientific and reliable data base which the Force can resort to.

Again, he disclosed that as part of the on-going reform efforts by Federal Government to aid security work, government has installed Close Circuit Television (CCTV) in strategic cities of the country, adding that with the BCMR, it would be easier to trace pictures which the CCTV captures. Other advantages include helping to maintain personal and national safety, ensure security and serves as a reliable data base of vehicles and vehicle owners in the country.

Against the backdrop that there is no act permitting the police to conduct the process, Mba argued that Section 3(2-6) of the Road Traffic Cap 548 LFN, 1990 among other laws, mandate the Inspector General of Police to maintain Central Motor Registry of all vehicles issued under Traffic Act(RTA) and keep data of licenses and renewals by licensing Authority.

Besides, he stated that on 15th, December, 2011, President Goodluck Jonathan, represented by the Minister of Police Affairs, Rtd. Cpt. Caleb Olubolade, endorsed and launched the Nigeria Police Force project to change the registration processes of vehicles, tri-cycles and auto-bikes from analog to digital, tagged Police Bio-metric Central Motor Registration (BCMR).

He added that since the launching, the Police authority and its technical partners have been test-running the scheme to ensure a smooth transition in a way that would neither disturb vehicle owners nor stress commuters, yet, achieve the fundamental, underlying objectives of a new system that would guarantee safety and security of lives and property.

“The pilot schemes in all the selected States and cities were a huge success. This further reassured the Nigeria Police Force that the BCMR project is a relevant concept whose time has come for Nigerian vehicle owners to enjoy the global standards for safety of their vehicles which other people have been enjoying in advanced, civilized societies all over the world.”

Anthony-Claret Onwutalobi
Anthony-Claret Onwutalobi
Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC and CEO of Portia Web Solutions. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
https://www.codewit.com

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