A Federal High Court in Abuja which ordered the release of the biodata of the man at the centre of the human harvesting charges against former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice might have violated the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR).
Last Friday, Justice Inyang Ekwo ruled that the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and the Nigeria Immigration Service and some banks must release the Certified True Copy of the biodata of David Ukpo to the Ekweremadu couple.
The couple first arranged on 23 June before an Uxbridge Magistrate’s Court in the United Kingdom for alleged conspiracy to facilitate Ukpo’s travel from Nigeria for organ harvesting. Ukpo had claimed to be a minor.
Justice Ekwo gave the ruling following originating summons moved by Ekweremadu’s counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN).
Images of Ukpo’s had appeared online, prompting the Federal Government to order an investigation into the breach of his data privacy. The court order was given to aid the couple’s defence in the trial in the UK.
Sunday PUNCH reports that a source at the NIMC expressed concern over the extent to which the ruling breached the provisions of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019, which was enacted in accordance with the Act establishing the National Information Technology Development Agency.
The source said that it was wrong for the data of a subject to be released to another individual, adding that the judgment was hasty and that the commission had a window to file its processes when the court gave its judgment.
Section 2.3 of the NITDA Act 2007, which speaks to ‘Procuring Consent’, states: “(1) No data shall be obtained except the specific purpose of collection is made known to the Data Subject; (2) Data Controller is under obligation to ensure that consent of a Data Subject has been obtained without fraud, coercion or undue influence; accordingly: (a) where processing is based on consent, the Controller shall be able to demonstrate that the Data Subject has consented to processing of his or her Personal Data and the legal capacity to give consent; (e) where data may be transferred to a third party for any reason whatsoever”.
The NIMC source noted that the commission was saddened by the ruling because there was no evidence of consent from the data subject; the request was in the private capacity of the Ekweremadus and that no provision in the NIMC Act, Regulations and NDPR permits such transmission of personal information.
The source hinted that the commission was only served with the court processes on 27 and 30 June, and that the application before the court was to seek the order of mandamus to compel NIMC to disclose the National Identity Number (NIN) data of a citizen without his consent, which was in contravention of the NDPR.
The source added: “The applicants are not law enforcement agencies and cannot, therefore, assert to the court that the information will be used to prevent crime. Therefore, they do not have the capacity to act for law enforcement agencies. The proper process is to apply to relevant law enforcement agencies and to join HAGF (Honourable Attorney General of the Federation) in the process”.
At the Uxbridge Magistrate’s Court, the couple denied the charges against them and the court adjourned till 7 July for hearing.
Ekweremadu also appeared before the Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court last Thursday but his ball application was turned down.
Source: SUNDAY Punch