The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Conducting (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit towards President Muhammadu Buhari, asking the court to “picture illegal and unconstitutional the notion by the administration to trace, intercept and video show WhatsApp messages, cellular phone calls, and text messages of Nigerians and other other people, as it severely threatens and violates the elegant to the preservation of privacy.”
The suit adopted the proposal in the Supplementary Appropriation Act signed in July 2021 to employ N4.87 billion to video show personal calls and messages. The volume is share of the N895.8 billion supplementary budget authorized by the National Assembly.
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1240/2021 filed closing Friday at the Federal Excessive Courtroom in Abuja, SERAP is seeking: “an negate of perpetual injunction restraining President Buhari and every other authority, persons or team of persons from unlawfully monitoring the WhatsApp messages, cellular phone calls and text messages of Nigerians and other other people.”
SERAP is also seeking “a declaration that any monitoring of WhatsApp messages, cellular phone calls and text messages is oppressive and draconian, as it threatens and violates sections 37 and 39 of Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended]; Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; and Articles 17 and 19 of Global Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nigeria is a disclose birthday party.”
SERAP is arguing that “The notion to video show WhatsApp messages, cellular phone calls and text messages is an arbitrary interference by the administration into admire for family and personal life, the house, and correspondence. It also fails to meet the requirements of legality, necessity, and proportionality.”
Per SERAP, “The Buhari administration has lawful obligations to present protection to Nigerians and other other people towards arbitrary interference and violations of their human rights. Monitoring of WhatsApp messages, cellular phone calls and text messages would grant free rein to executive companies to conduct mass surveillance of communications of other people.”
SERAP is also arguing that “The mere possibility of mass surveillance, even when secret, coupled with the dearth of clear up, can declare an interference with human rights, including the rights to privacy, freedom of expression, amassed assembly and association.”
SERAP is extra arguing that “Privateness and expression are intertwined in the digital age, with on-line privacy serving as a gateway to stable squawk of the freedom of belief and expression. Therefore, targets of surveillance would undergo interference with their rights to privacy and freedom of belief and expression whether the difficulty to video show is a hit or no longer.”
Joined in the suit as Respondents are Abubakar Malami, Minister of Justice and Felony expert Total of the Federation; and Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Finances and National Planning.
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Kehinde Oyewumi, be taught in share: “The powers to conduct arbitrary, abusive or unlawful surveillance of communications also shall be extinct to purpose political figures and activists, journalists and others in the discharge of their lawful activities.”
“Any spending of public funds may perchance perchance amassed defend within the boundaries of constitutional obligations, and oath of workplace by public officers, as properly as follow Chapter 2 of the Nigerian Constitution touching on to distinguished dreams and directive principles of disclose protection.”
“The dearth of any safeguards towards discriminatory decision-making, and access to an efficient clear up reveals the grave threats the purported notion poses to constitutionally and internationally acknowledged human rights.”
“Part 37 of the Nigerian Constitution and Article 17 of the Global Covenant on Civil and Political Rights present for the elegant to freedom from arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy and correspondence, communications and personal files.”
“Part 39 of the Nigerian Constitution and Article 19 of the Covenant also enlighten the elegant of every person to take opinions without interference and to look at, rep and bid records and techniques of all kinds, in spite of frontiers and by scheme of any media.”
“The UN Total Assembly has condemned unlawful or arbitrary surveillance and interception of communications as ‘extremely intrusive acts’ that interfere with distinguished human rights (gaze Total Assembly resolutions 68/167 and 71/199).”
“Interference with privacy by scheme of focused surveillance is designed to repress the squawk of the elegant to freedom of expression. Surveillance of journalists, activists, opposition figures, critics and others merely exercising their elegant to freedom of expression – would consequence in violations of other human rights.”
“Targeted surveillance creates incentives for self-censorship and straight undermines the skill of journalists and human rights defenders to conduct investigations and plan and retain relationships with sources of files.”
SERAP is also seeking the next reliefs:
- A DECLARATION that monitoring of WhatsApp messages, cellular phone calls and text messages of Nigerians and other other people is inconsistent with the principles of legality, necessity, and proportionality and amounts to possibility and infringement on the rights to personal and family life, access to correspondence, and freedom of expression and the press guaranteed below sections 37 and 39 of Nigeria Constitution, 1999; Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and Articles 17 and 19 of Global Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- A DECLARATION that the act of the Defendants budgeting N4.87bn of public money to video show WhatsApp messages, cellular phone calls and text messages of Nigerians and other other people is unlawful and a violation of the rights to personal and family life, access to correspondence, and freedom of expression and the press
- AN ORDER environment apart the budget line of N4.87bn to video show WhatsApp messages, cellular phone calls and text messages of Nigerians and other other people for being inconsistent and incompatible with constitutional provisions, and world human rights treaties
- AN ORDER mandating the first Respondent to redirect public funds in the sum of N4.87bn budgeted to video show WhatsApp messages, cellular phone calls and text messages of Nigerians and other other people to beef up the working stipulations of healthcare practitioners and beef up public healthcare services and products across Nigeria
- AND FOR SUCH FURTHER ORDER OR ORDERS that this Honourable Courtroom may perchance perchance specialise in fit to make in the conditions.
No date has been mounted for the hearing of the suit.
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