The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ibrahim Pantami has warned Nigerians to beware of the activities of fraudsters who are demanding or claiming to have access to personal data of Nigerians such as SIM databases, bank verification numbers and other personal records for the distribution of palliatives and other relief materials as government intensified efforts to bring the COVID 19 pandemic under control.
The Minister said on Monday that government “is committed to ensuring that the use of data in the fight against COVID-19 complies with laid down regulations”.
Dr Pantami in a statement signed by his Technical Assistant, Dr Femi Adeluyi urged Nigerian not to fall victims of those behind devious schemes to gain access to personal data of Nigerians for fraudulent purposes.
“The Ministry also notes the concerns of well-meaning stakeholders on the privacy implications of government’s legitimate use of private data to check the spread of COVID-19, provide palliatives to vulnerable members of society and prevent criminal activities”, Dr Pantami said.
The Minister’s intervention was against the backdrop of messages in social media platforms demanding personal information from Nigerians to facilitate the transfer of money into their accounts or enable government deliver palliatives/relief materials to their homes during the period of the lockdown.
“For the avoidance of doubt, neither the Ministry nor any organ of the Federal Government directed that any such database be shared to any person for any purpose other than the legitimate, statutory purpose they were collected for”, Dr Pantami stated.
The public is therefore urged to disregard any information from any group or individuals seeking to confirm or collect personal records for any purpose, he added.
The Minister maintained that the government would “never ask citizens to confirm their records via phone calls or digital means without an elaborate structure to ensure the safety of these records and effective communication to the public in this regard”.
He said the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has been directed “to issue a comprehensive framework to guide public institutions on the lawful processing of personal data for public and vital interests such as public health, welfare, security and related matters”.