On the 15th of January, 2019, the Nigerian government issued the Nigerian Data Protection Regulations, marking the Nation’s first attempt at having a comprehensive legislation on data protection. The reactions trailing its passage have been a mixed bag: whist the regulations have been loudly applauded in some quarters as the right step towards achieving national data protection, others believe that it is of no positive consequence as it merely adds to a long list of government legislations and regulations that are rarely enforced for want of the political will to do so.
Perusing through the contents of the 5-paged regulation, governing Data Protection in Nigeria, one can understand the optimism of those that believe in the prospects of the Regulations in the light of salient notable provisions contained therein.
First, the Regulation articulates the privacy rights of Nigerian citizens enshrined in Section 37 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
In the wake of the passage of the NDPR, the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, in Incorporated Trustees of Paradigm Initiative for Information Technology (PIIT) & Sarah Solomon-Eseh v. National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) & Anor, reaffirmed the privacy rights of Nigerians as it ordered the Nigerian Information Management Commission to implement adequate steps to safeguard the privacy rights of Nigerian citizens beyond merely having spurious security policies which it had prior to the suit, and it failed to implement.