CITAD Urges INEC, NITDA, Others To Respect Citizens’ Data Rights,Privacy

By Ozumi Abdul

TECHDIGEST – The Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and its sister government agencies such as National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB), National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, National Human Rights Commission, as well as all the security agencies in the country to ensure the protection of citizens data, privacy and respect their rights online, during and after the 2023 general elections.

The call was made during a press conference held at the organization’s head office in Kano on Thursday.

While delivering the text of the press conference, the CITAD Digital Right Manager, Ali Sabo declared that it is important to note that the African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedoms has clearly spelt out that the freedom and privacy of individual online are respected and protected.

He added that 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.

He said that the UN has recognized the right to Internet as fourth generation rights, and the right to Internet as means to access these offline rights has at its core the issues of Privacy and Personal Data Protection.

Sabo noted that any breach of the above is a negation to Nigerian commitment to Human Rights as well as other international covenants on human rights, including the African Charter on Peoples and Human Rights.

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Sabo recalled that before the month of February, preceding the presidential and national assembly elections, that his organization held similar press conference to draw the attentions of the INEC and its sister government agencies to the need to protect and respect the digital rights of the citizens during and after elections.

He said security agencies, especially the police were also enjoined to avoid doing the hatchet job for politicians by unnecessarily arresting citizens as criticisms are part and parcel of democracy, but however regretted that despite this call, that serious cases of intimidations and harassments by the security agents were still recorded in some parts of the country during the last month’s 25, presidential and national assembly elections.


“Similarly, in the same month we called the attention of the Nigerian Police Force against the arbitrary arrest of citizens on the order of some overzealous politicians who misused their offices to trample on the fundamental human rights of the citizens. It is a well-known fact that “criticism is part and parcel of any democracy and it is one of the cardinal pillars through which democracy is being build”, but governments in Nigeria on many occasions, have displayed arrogance, impunity and lack of tolerance where at any slight instance they have ordered the arrest of the citizens for excising their fundamental human rights of expressing their opinions.

“If you could recall, in presidential and national assembly elections which is being held on the 25th of February, 2023 sad incidences happened in some part of the country, where reported cases of intimidation, harassment and malfunctioning of elections materials such as Biomodal Accreditation System (BVAS) were recorded.

“This month’s press conference is necessary at this time looking at what has happened in the presidential and national assembly 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 as we indicated in the previous press conference that government agencies have purchased surveillance systems to track and monitor people, most especially activists, journalists, opponents and those they consider threat to their interests. As Civil Society actors we consider this as a threat to not only the fundamental human rights of the citizens but to our democracy as this exposes citizens to privacy abuse.

“Furthermore, it is important to emphasize the need for respecting the privacy of individuals and ensuring that their data is being kept in a safer place and not allow third person to have access to it.

Consequently, he now called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure the protection and confidentiality of the people’s mandate and not allow anybody to tamper with it, to ensure that all the election electronic materials such BVAS are in good condition in order to avoid what happened in the presidential and national assembly election.

He also enjoined the INEC to ensure the early delivery of election materials to polling units across the country, as well as ensuring that all election results are being uploaded to INEC Result Viewing Portal (IREV) as stipulated in the 2022 Electoral Act.

The CITAD Digital Right manager also charged the Nigeria Police Force to desist from being used by politicians to intimidate voters, journalists and election observers during the election , while also calling on 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.