mail letter PIN

The Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), a social enterprise that connects young people with ICT related jobs, has written a 2-page letter to Nigeria’s President Buhari to protest the surveillance activities of some governors in Nigeria.

The letter called for a thorough investigation of the alleged illegal spying activities of several governors including, incumbent Governor Dickson of Bayelsa State , ex-Governor Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers State), ex-Governor Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom State) and ex-Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta State). This is in line with the series of investigative reports carried out by Premium Times which suggested several cases of right to privacy was violated via unauthorized access to citizens’ computers, phones and other confidential conversations.

Copied in the said letter were;  the Vice President, Senate President, Speaker house of representative, Chief Justice of the Federation, Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Justice,  National Security Adviser,  National Human Rights Commission,  Femi Falana Chambers, Nigeria Bar Association, United Nations Human Rights Commission, Freedom House International, Department of State Security Services, United Nations Secretary General, and Amnesty International. That sums up the entire presidential calvary and everyone else who needed to know.

PIN has been purveying digital rights and freedom for a while. For instance, when the 2013 and 2014 budget, under the government of President Good Jonathan, was revealed, the group drew public attention to the funds alloted for surveillance equipment, noting that it was a cause for alarm. The group also mentioned they requested for “contract details of purchased surveillance equipment as listed in the country’s national budget for 2013 and 2014 but the request was denied.”

In a press release, the digital rights group draws attention to the unconstitutional nature of the governors’ actions.

“The constitution is the supreme law in Nigeria and it does provide for freedom of speech, association, rights to privacy, etc. of every citizen. National Security has become a ready excuse for Government to acquire sophisticated technology with capability to monitor and spy private citizens’ online activities or conversations such as email, phone calls and all forms of text/chat messages. The concerns of abuse PIN has consistently raised has once again been confirmed by the Premium times report. ”

The group insists “that any form of interception, even those for the purpose of security, requires judicial oversight and legislative processes must come first.”

It is ironic that the event which initiated these series of investigations and letters was also a case of illegal access to confidential files when notorious “hackers for hire”, Hacking Team, was ravaged by hackers and had all their private files uploaded on the net.

Photo Credit: Menno van der Horst via Compfight cc

Ibukun Taiwo Author

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