The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to order the Nigerian Communications Commission to withdraw the directive asking Nigerians to submit the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) of their phones.
The Nigerian Communications Commission had stated that Nigerians would have to submit the International Mobile Equipment Identity of their phones to it from July.
In reaction, SERAP stated that the directive should be withdrawn, noting that it cannot be justified under any circumstance.
The group said the NCC's directive amounts to mass surveillance, which is contrary to the 1999 Constitution and would have a profound impact on other human rights.
A tweet from SERAP read, “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“We'll see in court if this is not withdrawn within 48 hours.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.”
The regulatory body had made the directive in the commission’s Revised National Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration.
This is part of NCC’s move to start the implementation of the Device Management System (a Centralised Equipment Identity Register) backed by President Muhammadu Buhari, according to Punch.
A portion of the policy said, “Accordingly, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, has directed that the Device Management System should be implemented within three months.”
The NCC said, “With the aim 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, one of the means to achieve this is through the deployment of Device Management System.
“The implementation of a Centralised Equipment Identity Register otherwise known as Device Management System will serve as a repository for keeping records of all registered mobile phones’ International Mobile Equipment Identity and owners of such devices.
“IMEIs that have been reported as either stolen or illegal will be shared through the DMS to all the operators and service providers.”
The IMEI number is the mobile phone’s fingerprint. It is a 15-digit number unique to each phone. With the IMEI number, a phone can be tracked and located irrespective of the cellular number in it.