Nigeria/Interpol MOU - Data Expert Cautions Govt On Information Sharing

(file photo).
26 April 2019

A data expert, Mr. Adewale Omoniyi has urged the Federal Government to exercise restraint on the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the International Criminal Police Organisation, INTERPOL, on information sharing under the West African Police Information System (WAPIS).

Omoniyi, in a letter written to President Muhammadu Buhari on the INTERPOL MoU, said the government should rather adopt an internal mechanism of data collation through e-government, rather than exposing the information base of the country and her citizens to external forces.

The Minister of Interior, Abdulraham Dambazau, had last week signed on behalf of Nigeria a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Council of Police Organisations, INTERPOL, on the project.

WAPIS Programme is implemented by INTERPOL with funding from the European Union. Its aim is to strengthen information exchange and coordination among the region's law enforcement agencies.

The Secretary-General of the INTERPOL, Jurgen Stock, said at the signing of the agreement was a bold step forward in the collective fight against crime.

However, Omoniyi, an international data expert, said: "Nigeria is a very big country and it appears that we are undermining the importance and sensitivity of data for a nation of our size. When you are trying to find a solution to a problem, you shouldn't initiate a counterproductive solution that may even create another web of problems. The long term effect of this WAPIS agreement might become costly to the nation.

"Our security challenge is an internal problem and it's gaining footholds in the country largely because of the corruption in the system. When you build a joint database with West African Police, it is as good as exposing the privacy of the country and this has a tendency of making our borders more porous."

Proffering solution to the security challenge in the country, Omoniyi said: "It is only the introduction of what I called e-government that can salvage us from corruption and by extension reduce the level of security challenges in the country. It's just a way of gathering information and processing it electronically.

"When you use adopt this, you arrive at more transparent and cost-effective ways of doing things. Part of the e-government is what we call e-collate which allows all parts of governments to build a database. Each country has a law that governs the database and information of its citizens.

"The strength of any information largely rest on the privacy it commands. The United Kingdom will never have a joint database with Germany and vice versa. The INTERPOL is different from the Nigerian Police and as such, they should not have access to Nigeria's database. The insecurity bedeviling our country is not external, it's not between Nigeria and Ghana or Senegal, it's strictly within Nigeria. The INTERPOL will benefit more from this and that is why they are committing resources to this," he said.

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