The Nigerian People’s Organization for the Defense of Socio-economic Rights and Responsibility (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari, asking the court to “overrule the current government’s plan to block WhatsApp messages, phone calls and text messages from Nigerians and others.”
According to SERAP, this seriously threatens and violates the right to privacy.
The lawsuit followed a proposal in the Supplementary Credit Act, signed in July 2021, to spend 4.87 billion naira to eavesdrop on calls and private messages.
The amount was part of the supplementary budget of 895.8 billion naira approved by the National Assembly.
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1240/2021 filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja last Friday, SERAP is seeking: “an order of perpetual injunction restraining President Buhari and any other authority, persons or group of persons from unlawfully monitoring the WhatsApp messages, phone calls and text messages of Nigerians and other people.”
The suit partly read, “The Buhari administration has legal obligations to protect Nigerians and other people against arbitrary interference and violations of their human rights. Monitoring of WhatsApp messages, phone calls and text messages would grant free rein to government agencies to conduct mass surveillance of communications of people.”
Joined in the suit as Respondents are Abubakar Malami, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation and Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning.