Paradigm Initiative asks court to determine powers of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)
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. However, 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 :
- 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.
- 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. 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.
Paradigm Initiative (PIN) is 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. The organization has worked in communities across Nigeria since 2007, and across Africa since 2017, building experience, community trust, and an organizational culture that positions it as a leading social enterprise in ICT for Development and Digital Rights on the continent.
PIN has built online platforms that educate and serve as safe spaces for the reporting of digital rights violations. These mediums, in the form of reports, short films, and educational online platforms, include Ayeta, Londa and Ripoti.
Paradigm Initiative is also the convener of the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF), a pan-African bilingual Forum that has held annually since 2013.