Lawyer Challenges Non Inclusion of ‘Specific Courts’ on the Data Protection Act

Dr Vincent Olatunji, National Commissioner, Nigeria Data Protection Commission.

A lawyer, Mr. Solomon Okedara, has filed an action in court to challenge the non inclusion of specific court with the juridiction to entertain cases on the violation of the Nigerian Data Protection Act 2023.

In an Originating Summons with Suit No: FHC/Aabj/CS/1005/2023 filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja against the Attorney General of the Federation and the National Assembly, Okedara, raised four issues for the determination of the Honorable Court.

Among the issues raised by the lawyer is; Whether or not the provisions of a specific court with the subject matter of jurisdiction to adjudicate on data protection and privacy-related subjects in the Nigerian Data Protection Act 2023 are fundamental to the fulfilment of the objectives of the Nigeria Data Protection Act 2023 and the protection of personal data and privacy of the applicant.

Recall that Section 65 of the Nigeria Data Protection Act only provides thus: “court” means any court of competent jurisdiction; without more.

Okedara, in his affidavit in support of the originating summons, stated among others that within two weeks after the enactment of the Nigeria Date Act 2023, he had experienced a number of instances of unlawful processing of his personal data by different categories of data controllers, and he needed to approach the court to recover damages against those data controllers, but it was still unclear whether he could validly approach a magistrate court, a high court, or only the Federal High Court under the Act.

He further stated that “as a Data Protection and Privacy expert, I have also received inquiries from parties seeking redress under the Act who have been faced with challenges in identifying the appropriate court(s) with jurisdiction, leading to delays that may result in eventual unnecessary litigation.

“That I verily believe that the uncertainty and unclarity of the definition of the word” court” in Section 65 of the Nigeria Data Protection Act 2023 is a matter of public importance, requiring the intervention of this court to provide clarity, guidance, and certainty to affected parties and stakeholders, including affected parties, legal practitioners, and the judiciary, to ascertain which court(s) have the authority to adjudicate matters arising from the Act,” he said, among other things he seeks reliefs and clarifications for.

The suit is yet to be assigned to a court.

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