THE Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sued President Muhammadu Buhari for failing to rescind his “approval” for security agencies to access people’s details via NIN-SIM linkage without due process of law.
The agencies were reportedly granted access to the database of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).
The suit FHC/L/CS/448/2022 was filed Friday at the Federal High Court in Lagos by Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi.
SERAP is asking the court to determine whether the approval is consistent with the principles of legality and necessity.
The applicants are requesting an order setting it aside due to “violations of private and digital communication rights, right to family life, human dignity and personal liberty”.
They want an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Federal Government, any other authority or group of persons from access to NIN-SIM details.
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The organization said millions of law-abiding Nigerians may feel that their private lives are the subject of constant surveillance.
SERAP argues that in a digital age, protecting the right to privacy requires exceptional attention and that interference with the right to privacy is not permissible.
The suit insists individuals should freely receive and share information of a personal nature without interference from the authorities.
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SERAP noted that access to people’s personal details would contravene section 37 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended), article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The other is article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which protect against arbitrary or unlawful interference with one’s privacy.”
“The power to access individual’s details raises serious concerns as to their arbitrary use by the authorities responsible for applying them”, the suit reads.
The Respondents are Abubakar Malami (SAN) Attorney General and Minister of Justice, and Isa Ali Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.
“The right to privacy allows Nigerians to hold opinions and exercise freedom of expression without arbitrary or illegal interference and attacks.
“While the effectiveness of the fight against serious crime may depend to a great extent on the use of modern investigation techniques, such an objective of general interest, however fundamental it may be, cannot in itself justify the unlawful or arbitrary interference with the right to privacy.
“The power to access individual’s details raises serious concerns as to their arbitrary use by the authorities responsible for applying them in a manner that reduces human rights by the monitoring and surveillance of millions of Nigerians.
“Violations or abuses of the right to privacy might affect the enjoyment of other human rights, including the right to freedom of expression and to hold opinions without interference.
“Private conversations of individuals – which belong to their intimate sphere and contribute to their personal development – also enjoy strong legal protection and can only be limited based on the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality.
“If not reversed, the approval would allow security agencies to access the data of the over 73 million Nigerians who have linked their National Identity Number with their SIM, and other people who may do so.”
No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.