NCC, NIMC IGNORES FOI REQUEST TO JUSTIFY SECURITY AGENCIES’ ACCESS TO NATIONAL IDENTITY AND SIM CARD DATABASES
Two civil society organizations, Paradigm Initiative (PIN) and Ikigai Innovation Initiative (Ikigai Nation) sent a Freedom of Information request to the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC). In the letter dated 11th February 2022 the organizations queried the directive of the Federal Government which was announced by the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy to grant certain security agencies in Nigeria, unfettered access to the databases of the NCC and NIMC. NCC and NIMC have statutory mandates to maintain the National identity and sim card database respectively. Although both organisations acknowledged receipt of the request on February 15, 2022, none of them is yet to respond to the questions asked.
PIN and Ikigai nation are demanding answers from the two government agencies on the basis of the statement credited to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Pantami, that this is in line with the President’s approval granting some law enforcement agencies access to databases domiciled with the NIMC and NCC.
While speaking on the development, Oyindamola Banjoko, Program Manager at Ikigai Nation said, “It is her organization’s considered opinion that a presidential approval for unfettered access to these data is not founded under existing law. Although the government advances the argument of combating insecurity as a legitimate aim, the existing legal framework for surveillance in Nigeria lacks sufficient safeguards,” Banjoko concluded.
“The authorization of the access granted to security agencies is questionable because it violates the provisions of various human rights laws, by giving law enforcement agencies excessive discretion and failing to provide checks and balances to prevent governmental excesses,” says Adeboye Adegoke, Senior Program Manager at Paradigm Initiative.
The questions for which the organizations are demanding answers include;
1. What legal provisions were relied on to give such access to security agencies?
2. What human rights safeguards exist to monitor the access to databases by law enforcement agents?
3. What independent oversight mechanisms exist to check accountability and transparency of the activities of law enforcement agents?
4. What are the legal and institutional safeguards in place to ensure accountability on the part of the security agencies who have been given access?
According to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2011, a public institution is obliged to respond to such a request within 7 days of receiving it. On next steps for the organizations, Banjoko hinted that the organization may be compelled to explore judicial options to compel the two agencies to provide the information they sought.
Here are the acknowledgement copies of the document sent.
ABOUT PARADIGM INITIATIVE:
Paradigm Initiative is a social enterprise that works to connect underserved young Africans with digital opportunities and ensures the protection of their rights.
Across our regional offices in Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and beyond, we work to connect under-served African youth with improved livelihoods through our digital inclusion and digital rights programs.
ABOUT IKIGAI INNOVATION INITIATIVE:
Ikigai Innovation Initiative is a non-profit organisation established to advance information technology policy across Africa. We promulgate diverse research on technology policy and legal frameworks across Africa. We also engage relevant stakeholders and advocate for better policies for the ecosystem at large.
For further information, please contact:
Communications Officer | Paradigm Initiative, Yaba, Lagos
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | www.paradigmhq.org
Program Manager | Ikigai Innovation Initiative, Lagos
Email: email@example.com | www.ikigaination.org