BREAKING: Federal High Court Rules Data Protection Suit Is Not A Fundamental Rights Enforcement Suit

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In adding to Nigeria’s jurisprudence around data protection, the Federal High Court rules that only Data Subjects can sue under the NDPR and NITDA Act for data breach.

In Suit No. FHC/AB/CS/79/2020 filed by Digital Rights Lawyers Initiative against the National Identity Management Commission on data breach occasioned by NIMC’s processing of digital identity cards.

In a judgment delivered on Wednesday 9 December, 2020, Hon Justice Watila ruled, among other things, that, the Applicant’s suit on data protection does not qualify as a fundamental rights suit and that data protection is a not a principal claim but ancillary to fundamental rights.

The court further held that, a suit fir interpretation of provisions of Nigeria Data Protection Regulation is not a fundamental rights suit and any breach of the regulation is a breach of NITDA Act and not necessarily a breach of section 37 of the Constitution.

The court ultimately held that the first relief which is “a declaration that data protection is included under right to privacy under section 37 of the Constitution” does not qualify as a principal fundamental rights claim and consequently struck out the Applicant’s suit.

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