Paradigm Initiative has filed for judicial review of the refusal of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology to attend to a Freedom of Information request made to the Ministry several weeks ago.
The action arose as a result of a Freedom of Information request made by the organization on May 3, 2017, to the ministry on the capabilities of two new satellites to be launched by the National Space and Research Development Agency under the Ministry. These satellites are believed to have snooping capacities which can infringe the constitutionally guaranteed rights of Nigerians to privacy. However, since the request was made, there has been no response from the ministry.
The refusal of the ministry to abide by the provision of the FOI Act 2011, in this case, is responsible for the initiation of the court process by Paradigm Initiative. The case has been since fixed for hearing and will come up before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court in the Abuja Division on June 28, 2017.
“At Paradigm Initiative, we understand the need to ensure that digital rights are respected and aside from having this as one of our most important mandates, we have recognized the need to mount guard in making this happen. This is not done because of the abundance of time and resources, but for the need to ensure that rights begin to form the fulcrum upon which technological innovations are made. Furthermore, we are keen on the crucial influence of digital rights on our dear country’s socio-political and socio-economic survival”, said Tomiwa Ilori, the Program Assistant for Paradigm Initiative’s Magoyi (ICT policy) program.
“This is not the first time we have turned to the Courts to have them safeguard digital rights in Nigeria. Even though a unique and novel turf, we are conscious of the fact that soon, we will be able to comfortably rely on the Court’s plethora of decided cases on digital rights to institutionalize its principles”, he continued.
The Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, ‘Gbenga Sesan also said, “If Nigeria must lead in Africa, she must also learn to teach by examples, one of which is ensuring that rights are respected whether online or offline. We understand the bureaucracies and back-breaking challenges that come with asking questions from authorities, especially in Nigeria but we are not going to allow that deter us.’’
Adeboye Adegoke, a Program Manager with Paradigm Initiative’s Magoyi (ICT Policy) program, reiterated “the need to make sure that we have rights-respecting institutions in Nigeria is almost a thankless job considering the unique structure of Nigeria as a country but it is a job that must be done. We will ensure that we get this matter to a logical conclusion and we implore Nigerians to join us in creating more awareness of the need to respect digital rights. Thankfully, Nigerians are beginning to get more interested in strategies to make sure that digital rights gain more footing as it is intrinsically linked to democratic principles of constitutionalism.”