Paradigm Initiative (PIN) has expressed concerns over the exclusion of civil society in Nigeria from the proposed Data Protection Commission’s Governing Council, terming it worrying.
The organisation’s Executive Director, Mr. ‘Gbenga Sesan and Senior Manager, Programs and Grants Strategy, Boye Adegoke expressed the concerns when they paid a courtesy call to the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau in Abuja, Nigeria last week.
Sentiments from PIN come at a time when the legislature is discussing the country’s Data Protection Bill.
“We are worried that the bill may not enjoy further stakeholder input through a Public Hearing at the National Assembly before a planned Third Reading and passage. It is also important to state that excluding civil society from the proposed Data Protection Commission’s Governing Council is worrying. We will, however, continue to put your feet to the fire so you always do what is right even if it means condemning the actions of erring government agencies and officials,” ‘Gbenga said.
He was also quick to point out that as much as PIN appreciates ongoing legislative discussion, there was a need for the process to be inclusive and the Data Protection Commission to be independent.
“While we appreciate the ongoing legislative discussion of a Data Protection Bill for Nigeria, something we have worked hard towards, we are very clear on the need for the process to be inclusive and for the Data Protection Commission to be independent,” ‘Gbenga told the National Commissioner of the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau, Dr. Vincent Olatunji, during the visit.
On his part, Boye was categorical that:
“the institution will not be independent because it is called independent, but because it is set up to be independent through financing, board composition and the process for the recruitment of the data protection officer.”
At the same time, PIN raised issues over the violation of data protection by various digital loan apps in Nigeria, and citizens’ data protection in the proposed census exercise by the National Population Commission (NPC).
Dr. Olatunji shared information on the bill and explained how its passage would guarantee the rights, freedoms and interest of data subjects in Nigeria. He also provided updates on the bureau’s independence, enforcement procedures and tackling the challenge of digital lending companies, among others.
The purpose of the visit was to discuss the progress of the Data Protection Bill and raise concern over the above-mentioned violations.
The bill seeks to establish an independent and effective regulatory commission to oversee data protection and privacy issues and supervise data controllers and data processors within public and private sectors.