NIN-SIM linkage: Buhari sued for granting access to subscribers’ details’

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President Muhammadu Buhari has been sued over his failure to rescind his approval for security agencies to access people’s personal details via NIN-SIM linkage without due process of law.

The suit was filed by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

Buhari in February reportedly gave his approval for some security agencies to access the database of the National Identity Management Commission in the course of carrying out their duties.

But in the suit number FHC/L/CS/448/2022 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Lagos, SERAP is asking the court to determine “whether the approval for security agencies to access people’s personal details via the National Identification Number [NIN] without due process is consistent with the principles of legality, necessity, and proportionality.”

SERAP is asking the court for an order setting aside President Buhari’s approval.

It said the approval for security agencies to access people’s personal details via NIN-SIM linkage without due process of law, amounts to violations of private and digital communication rights, right to family life, human dignity and personal liberty.”

SERAP is also asking the court for “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Federal Government or any other authority, persons or group of persons from unlawfully accessing people’s personal details via NIN-SIM linkage without due process of the law.”

In the suit, SERAP is arguing that: “If President Buhari’s approval is not rescinded, millions of law-abiding Nigerians may feel that their private lives are the subject of constant surveillance.”

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SERAP is also arguing that, “In the digital age, protecting the right to privacy requires exceptional attention. The approval may be used as a pretext by security agencies to violate Nigerians’ right to privacy and other related human rights.”

According to SERAP, “Interference with an individual’s right to privacy is not permissible if it is unlawful or arbitrary.”

SERAP is also seeking “a declaration that President Buhari’s approval for security agencies to access people’s personal details via NIN-SIM linkage without due process of law is inconsistent with the principles of legality, necessity, and proportionality.”

SERAP is further arguing that, “It is crucial to respect the autonomy of individuals to receive and share information of a personal nature without interference from the authorities, if unintended adverse consequences are to be avoided.”

Joined in the suit as Respondents are Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and Mr Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.

The suit was filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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