Pan-African digital rights organisation, Paradigm Initiative, has written to the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service demanding compensation for Nigerian citizen, Ewohime Jeffrey Apkovweta, whose passport biodata page was posted online following the allegation that he destroyed Nigeria’s diplomatic vehicles in London.
The organisation, while not touching on the separate issue of the vandalization allegation against Apkovweta, is holding Nigerian immigration agency accountable for violating the data privacy rights of the citizen by publicly displaying his passport biodata page, containing personally identifiable information on social media.
While speaking on the development, Adeboye Adegoke, Program Manager for Anglophone West Africa at Paradigm Initiative, said, ‘’The organisation is appalled by the absolute disregard that many government agencies display towards the personal information, including biometric data of citizens in their custody. Despite the fact that the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) came out with Data Protection Guidelines for Nigeria, agencies of government and private organizations continue to treat privacy and confidentiality of citizens’ data with levity.”
Adeboye continued, “Irrespective of the allegations against the citizen, the immigration agency had no right to violate his constitutionally guaranteed right to privacy.”
NITDA’s data privacy guidelines prescribe minimum data protection standards for all organisations or persons that control, collect, store or process personal data of Nigerian residents and citizens within and outside Nigeria.
The scope of persons who are bound by the NITDA Guidelines is clearly specified in section 1.3 of the guidelines which says: “These guidelines are mandatory for federal, state and local government agencies and institutions as well as other organizations which own, use or deploy information systems within the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Section 1.4 of the guidelines further confirms that “the Data Protection Guidelines shall apply to all data controllers in public and private sector as defined in the guidelines”.
It also applies to foreign organisations that process personal data of Nigerian citizens.
Tope Ogundipe, Director of Programs, Paradigm Initiative, stated, ‘’The letter to Nigeria Immigration Service was written in accordance with section 109 of the Immigration Act requiring a 30-day pre-action notice to state that the immigration services pay the citizen a sum of N10,000,000 only as compensation for the citizen, failing which the organization will institute a legal action to achieve this objective and other prayers. This request is in accordance with the provisions of the Nigerian Data Protection Guidelines,” Ogundipe concluded.