By Hajara Abdullahi
The Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) has urged the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), and its sister agencies on the need to respect citizens rights by protecting their privacy and data both online and offline before, during and after the forthcoming general elections.
The Digital Rights Officer, CITAD, Ali Sabo while briefing Journalists Thursday in Kano also urged the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB), National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, National Human Rights Commission and all the security agencies to keep hands on deck.
“It is good to know that the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms has clearly spelled out that the freedom and privacy of individual online is of upmost importance and must be protected. These rights correspond to the fundamental rights provided in the Declaration on Human Rights as Freedom of Expression, Right to Information, Freedom of Assembly and Association as well as the right to personal privacy and dignity. The UN has recognized the right to Internet as fourth generation rights. The right to the Internet as a means to access these offline rights has at its core the issues of Privacy and Personal Data Protection.
“It is necessary at this time as we are fast approaching the 2023 Nigerian General Elections. It is imperative for us as an organization working on the area of upholding electoral Integrity, human rights and digital rights in Nigeria, to draw the attention of all the stakeholders, especially security agencies and those who have citizens’ data in their custody, on the importance of protecting and safeguarding the rights of the Nigerian citizens, both online and offline and ensuring that their data is safe and not be misused or tempered with.
“This call is necessary because there is genuine information indicating that government agencies have and are purchasing surveillance systems to track and monitor people, most especially activists, journalists, opponents and those they consider a threat to their interests.
“As Civil Society actors we consider this as dangerous and a threat to not only the fundamental human rights of the citizens but to our democracy as this exposes citizens to privacy abuse.”
“On this note we are calling on the following stakeholders as a matter of public interest and upholding electoral integrity in the country to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure the protection and confidentiality of the people’s mandate and not allow anybody to temper with it.
“The Nigeria Police Force to desist from being used by politicians to intimidate voters, journalists and election observers during the election. Tech giant companies to ensure the protection and confidentiality of the people’s data so as not to allow third parties to have access to it.
“The National Information Technology Development Agency, Nigeria Communications Commission, Nigeria Data Protection Bureau, National Identity Management Commission, Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to not allow themselves to be used or transmit citizens data to a third person for any reason unless this request is by a competent court while the government to respect the citizens’ rights for association, assembly and speech online during this election.
“Also, we are calling on the security agency to ensure the protection of election infrastructure as well as telecommunication infrastructure in order to have smooth transmission of election results without any compromise in the country.”