Author: Atueyi Chinenye
Nigeria, which is in its fourth round of democracy process, is plagued with the problems of religious extremist (Boko Haram), Widespread kidnapping, increase abduction and online scams. Due to these menace, Nigerian government has resorted to the use of technology to carry out massive surveillance to gather intelligence to tackle these problems. How ever, we can argue that these issues may be linked to government challenges of mismanagement, corruption and unemployment.
For the purpose of national security, the government under Jonathan, awarded a USD 40 Million contract with an Israel Company Elbit system LTD for Internet and computer based information gathering for the purpose of national security. Nigeria, is also among 11 countries discovered by Citizen Lab, a university in Toronto research centre, to have Finfisher surveillance software. This software enables the government to obtain password from any computer, monitor Skype calls and even turn on your computer camera and sound recording. (more information on how finfisher works). Although online surveillance may seem to be a solution to these problems, in reality it is a small percent contribution in tackling these problems.
Besides the above-mentioned online surveillance tracking systems, Nigerian telecommunication provides intercept communications that will assist security agencies, intercept phone calls, text messages, chat messages and emails without any legal process. There is currently no legal framework to guide and regulate government intelligence lead activity on information and data interception. In its present form.
Ordinary citizens, may think government spying is the problem for high profiled individuals think again, a perfect example is the Stasi State where there was mass surveillance collection which was used as a tool of oppression. With the Poor track record of the Nigerian government on the abuse of power, inefficiency, corruption, little or no accountability and poor legal and judicial process to carry out surveillance can take Nigeria back to the military era. This is backed up with the fact that Nigerian security agencies still show signs of military era tactic, makes people reluctant to believe that online surveillance will be carried out for the good of the people. (further reading on how government surveillance affect law-abiding citizens).
Public awareness about the dangers of Government investment in tools for online surveillance’s and general surveillance is important. A lot of Nigerians do not know this because it is done in secret or have a nonchalant attitude about this. It is important we draw a lesson from the past and demand for government to come up with privacy and data interception and collection law to protect the rights and privacy of lawful citizens.