Requesting Nigerians’ IMEI illegal, says SERAP

By Segun Adewole

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has kicked against the directive by the Nigerian Communications Commission that requires Nigerians to submit the International Mobile Equipment Identity of their phones.

The NCC had announced that the directive aims to “curtail the counterfeit mobile phone market, discourage mobile phone theft, enhance National Security, protect consumer interest, increase revenue generation for the government, reduce the rate of kidnapping, mitigate the use of stolen phones for crime, and facilitate blocking or tracing of stolen mobile phones and other smart devices.”

Reacting, SERAP described it as illegal, adding that it amounted to mass surveillance which was contrary to the 1999 Constitution.

“We urge President Buhari to direct the Nigerian Communications Commission to immediately withdraw the illegal directive asking Nigerians to submit the International Mobile Equipment Identity of their phones.

“We’ll see in court if this is not withdrawn within 48 hours.

“The directive cannot be justified under any circumstances, as it amounts to mass surveillance, which is contrary to the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended], and violates the rights to privacy, freedom of expression, and would have a profound impact on other human rights.

“Asking Nigerians to submit their Phone ID is illegal and unconstitutional.

“The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Nigeria has ratified provides that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with their privacy or correspondence,” the rights group said on Twitter.

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