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I’ve contacted the minister of Interior, it’s being handled – Bosun Tijani reacts to reported purchase of his NIN

The Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani, has officially reacted to the alleged purchase of his National Identification Number (NIN) slip for N100 on a website that has now been taken down.

Tijani in his first response to the issue, which has sparked data privacy concerns among Nigerians, said he has contacted the Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, over the issue. He expressed confidence that the Ministry and the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) are addressing the matter.

Recall that the NIMC, formerly under Tijani’s Ministry’s supervision, was moved to the Ministry of Interior in September last year.

“I have engaged my colleague, the Minister of Interior, who supervises the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and I am aware that his ministry and the agency are on top of the matter,” Tijani said on Wednesday in a post on X.

Although the Minister did not confirm or deny the claims by Paradigm Initiative, a civil society organization, that uncovered websites selling Nigerians’ data, Tijani said the Nigeria Data Protection Commission (NDPC) which is under his Ministry, has started a thorough investigation to ascertain the circumstances surrounding this alleged breach.

The Minister also emphasized the need for a structured Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) and the need for Data Exchange across MDAs to strengthen Nigeria’s cybersecurity oversight.

“Having established that, I do believe that it is important to share the proactive steps I have taken upon appointment to help strengthen technology application in government, despite the historically siloed approach to procurement and development.

“For context, in October 2023, a few weeks after my appointment, I released a whitepaper elucidating my position on technology application within the public service and our proposed approach to leveraging existing investment in technology to accelerate economic prosperity through improved government processes,” he said.

Last week, Paradigm Initiative, raised an alarm over its discovery of National Identification Number (NIN), Bank Verification Number (BVN), and other data of Nigerians on a website for as low as N100.

According to the Group, the website was discovered to be involved in the commercial distribution of personal and private data of Nigerians.

“This alarming development presents a major breach of the fundamental rights to privacy, a breach of data privacy rights, and poses significant risks to individuals and the national economy,” the organization said in a statement.

On Monday, the Executive Director of the organization, Gbenga Sesan, further disclosed that contrary to a recent warning by NIMC that Nigerians should desist from sharing their data with fraudulent websites, the data being sold on the websites were sourced directly from the government’s databases.

“The problem is not Nigerians because we were able to confirm that what they were selling is NIMC’s data and we have proof. We got the NIN slip of the Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Dr. Bosun Tijani. We got the NIN slip of the number one data regulator in Nigeria, Dr. Vincent Olatunji. We bought them for N100 each to demonstrate that this is not a joke,” he said.

Meanwhile, the NIMC is insisting that there was no case of data breach on its platform. NIMC said it had taken robust measures to safeguard the nation’s database from cyber threats, making it a secure, world-class, full-proof database.

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