Digital rights body asks NIS to pay Ewohime Apkovweta N10m for releasing his passport details

DIGITAL rights organisation Paradigm Initiative has written to the comptroller-general of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) demanding compensation of N10m ($27,500) for Ewohime Apkovweta after his passport details were made public in response to his recent attack at the London high commission.


On June 17, in an unprecedented development, Mr Apkovweta, 32 smashed the windscreens of seven cars outside the Nigerian high commission in central London. He appeared incensed at not being given his passport when he turned up to collect it and in a fit of rage damaged five vehicles belonging to the mission and two belonging to private individuals that just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.


Over recent weeks, the shortage of passport booklets at the London high commission has led to a huge backlog of applications and with the busy summer travel period coming up, many disaporans are finding the experience frustrating. Also, the high commission building lacks facilities like vending machines, pay areas, wheelchair access, etc, meaning that the wait there can be very frustrating.


After Mr Apkovweta smashed the cars, the NIS released his passport details and his passport biodata page was posted online. Paradigm Initiative, a pan-African digital rights body, said that although it does not condone vandalism, the action of the NIS violates the data privacy rights of the citizen.


Adeboye Adegoke, Paradigm Initiative's programme manager for Anglophone West Africa, said: "The organisation is appalled by the absolute disregard that many government agencies display towards the personal information, including biometric data of citizens in their custody. Despite the fact that the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) came out with Data Protection Guidelines for Nigeria, agencies of government and private organisations continue to treat privacy and confidentiality of citizens’ data with levity."


“Irrespective of the allegations against the citizen, the immigration agency had no right to violate his constitutionally guaranteed right to privacy. NITDA's data privacy guidelines prescribe minimum data protection standards for all organisations or persons that control, collect, store or process personal data of Nigerian residents and citizens within and outside Nigeria."


Tope Ogundipe, Paradigm Initiative's director of programmes, added: "The letter to THE Nigeria Immigration Service was written in accordance with section 109 of the Immigration Act requiring a 30-day pre-action notice to state that the immigration service's pay the citizen a sum of N10,000,000 only as compensation for the citizen, failing which the organisation will institute a legal action to achieve this objective and other prayers. This request is in accordance with the provisions of the Nigerian Data Protection Guidelines.”