The protection of voters’ information by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has come under scrutiny by a social advocacy organisation in the ICT sector.
The Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, PIN, through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request has asked INEC to explain the true state of data collected from Nigerian voters currently on the website www.voters.ng, a third party organisation.
According to the FOI request dated September 19, 2016 and addressed to the chairman of INEC, Mahmoud Yakubu, PIN stated that in continuation of its commitment for the respect of constitutional guaranteed rights of every Nigerian “especially those that deal with and must respect the sanctity of personal data of Nigerian citizens”, the commission should provide it with details of the transactions between it and www.voters.ng within the time stipulated by the Freedom of Information Act.
“While these data are much needed to prosecute the core objectives of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in conducting seamless elections, we are sure that the good conscience of the commission would agree that these data are delicate social infrastructure exchanged in trust.
“Where these data are found within the domain of a third party with no prior consent of the owners sought, that trust may be said to have been seriously eroded,” the letter stated.
“This call is being made to ensure that the rights of every Nigerian citizen are adequately protected especially in the age where technologies are capable of being used against individual safety,” Tomiwa Ilori, Program Assistant (ICT Policy) of PIN, said in a statement.
“It is important to also note, that not only does it smack of distrust and lack of due diligence by a public institution in performing its duties to find data of private citizens handed to them in trust in the hand of a third party without any evidence of consent of these citizens sought, it portends great danger to the digital survival of our social, political and economic environment.”
“We use this medium to call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to heed the call and comply with the request made to them in the interest of Nigerian citizens. Also, we call on all stakeholders interested in ensuring that our social capital as a society is preserved to weigh in on this issue, join hands with us and see it to a logical conclusion,” Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of PIN, added.
INEC has until September 26 to respond to the request.