The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, has averred that only security institutions in the country can gain access to people’s personal phone information.
The minister made this revelation on Tuesday while unveiling the Nigerian Communications Commission’s Strategic Vision Plan (2021-2025), NCC Global Connect Podcast and a Compendium of speeches by the Executive Vice Chairman of the commission, Prof. Umar Danbatta, in Abuja.
“It is only the security institutions that have power and access to people’s lines; we do not have such power, if not, it will be abused. It will be wrong for anybody to contact NCC or ministry to provide data of any subscriber,” he said,
Stressing the role of the ministry in this regard, Pantami said, “Ours is when we are contacted that we will provide to the security agencies the data they need.
“Even when we are contacted, there are requirements constitutionally to do that because telephone conversations are meant to be confidential as stipulated by section 37 sub section 39 of the constitution.
“The Cybercrime Act 2015 and the subsidiary legislations of the commission allow government to give such approval when a crime is committed after the security agencies established a prima-facie case, then it can be conveyed to the relevant institution.”
He further said that there were some successes in this aspect, while emphasizing the need to ensure the security of the country.
The minister said, “I can tell you that many successes have been recorded but not meant for public consumption. Today, criminals usually block highways and use phone of victims to contact their families. There are a lot of things the sector has been doing to support the stability and security of the nation.
“I am clarifying this because I am being confronted with so many questions and citizens need to understand that we have procedures and it is only when the procedures are respected that we are mandated to provide data.
“Sometimes, security institutions can gain access without confronting us because Mr. President has approved that for security institutions to gain access to people information without confronting us make their work much easier than they would have access to many things than when they contact NCC or operators.
“At any point in time, in telecom sector, our position is security takes precedence over economic gains, but if two things must be pursued, this is our priority.”