• Sun. Dec 4th, 2022

Paradigm Initiative Drags NITDA to Court

ByJustice Godfrey Okamgba

Oct 31, 2022
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Paradigm Initiative (PIN), a social enterprise that builds ICT-enabled support systems and advocates for digital rights in order to improve the livelihoods of under-served young Africans, has instituted a court action against the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA).

The organization has asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to determine, among other things, whether NIITDA has the powers to propose or formulate any regulation, framework or guideline which directs or purports to direct, mandate or purport to mandate, dictates or purports to dictate the protection of personal data in Nigeria.

According to Paradigm Initiative, the growing number of people with access to the internet and the increasing usage of digital technology in business, healthcare, commerce, banking, and other parts of the economy has created the need to develop more laws and policies around these issues.

A statement by PIN circulated by Judith Ogutu, Communications Manager, reads:

“… the power of an agency to make laws and policies on any issues must be given by law and in ensuring the rule of law is adhered to, we have asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to determine the following questions :

“1. Whether the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has the powers to propose or formulate any regulation, framework or guideline which directs or purports to direct, mandate or purport to mandate, dictates or purports to dictate the protection of personal data in Nigeria.

“2. Whether the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) possesses the powers to propose or formulate any regulation, framework and guideline which directs or purports to direct, mandates or purports to mandate, dictates or purports to dictate the issuance and enforcement of sanctions for non-compliance thereto.

“These questions are important for existing and future policy and regulation formulation as they ensure that responses to emerging threats are meticulous and effective.

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“Actions mandated by laws are legitimized by the people and have contingencies to possible issues.

“Any agency acting beyond legal authority puts the people and the aspect of governance under their mandate at risk.

“As a regulatory agency, NITDA is a creation of the law and as an organization that enforces the law, it must not be seen to act outside limits of the law.

“This suit is without prejudice to NITDA’s ongoing attempt to amend its laws to give it additional powers and to legitimize actions it already undertook within its existing mandate.

“It is our prerogative to see the rule of law adhered to especially by regulatory agencies of government as we await the determination of the suit”.

NITDA has always maintained that it derives its operational guidelines from the National Information Technology Development Act (2007) which empowers it to ‘…develop and regulate Information Technology in Nigeria, hence “the National Information Technology Development Agency is empowered by its enabling Act to create a framework for the planning, research, development, standardization, application, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and regulation of Information Technology practices in Nigeria by developing standards, guidelines and regulations for that purpose.

“This piece of legislation provides for the establishment of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) to address the breath of its mandates”.

When contacted, Hadiza Umar (Mrs), the Head of External Communications at NITDA, told TechEconomy that “…as at today, NITDA is yet to receive court summon as confirmed by the Head of the Legal Unit”.

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