The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has commended Paradigm Initiative for its advocacy work in Nigeria and urges the organization not to rest on its oars.
This commendation was given while the court was delivering judgment in a case instituted by the organization against the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and the Attorney General of the Federation.
The case was instituted to compel NIMC to suspend the implementation of its Digital Identity systems in Nigeria pending the time Nigeria enacts a comprehensive Data Protection law and due to security lapses and privacy concerns identified by the organization.
The Presiding judge, Hon Justice Ifeoma Ojukwu while delivering her judgment categorically stated that the 1st respondent must do more in the area of security to avoid a breach of citizens’ rights to privacy etc.
According the judge “It is not sufficient to have lofty ideas, it must be married with overall interest of the public. The protective laws and parameters must be in place for adequate implementation of the policy”.
The court however dismissed the substantive case due to the Nigerian Data Protection Regulation introduced by the National Information Technology Development Agency(NITDA) during the pendency of the case but the judge emphasized the relevance of the case for public good.
While commenting on the judgment, Program Manager at Paradigm Initiative, Adeboye Adegoke says “clearly, NIMC was going about the implementation of Digital Identity project in Nigeria without a Data Protection Law in Nigeria and that was the basis of this case. Coincidently, NITDA’s regulation on Data protection was announced while this case was pending in the court and the judge decided to rely on the regulation to dismiss the case. Meanwhile, as an organization we have strong concerns and this includes whether the NITDA’s regulation can be a substitute for a comprehensive data protection law compliant with the best global standards such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union”. “We are also worried about the implementation of the regulation. There are no records of enforcement of the regulation yet and as at the time of this statement, NITDA is still consulting stakeholders on how to go about implementing the regulation”.
In the words of the Judge, “The Honourable Court appreciates the laudable steps taken by Paradigm Initiative in instituting the case and their objectives for the common good. When responsible civil society and groups take the mantle as society’s watchdog, the general public stands to gain, in the long run. I urge them not to rest on their oars.”
“We are currently reviewing the certified true copy of the Judgment and we will definitely consider appealing the judgment” says the Executive Director, and Paradigm Initiative, ‘Gbenga Sesan.