The Nigerian Government has said its security agencies have access to information on Nigerians through their mobile phones.
Pantami, however, noted that as a minister, he could not grant requests for such personal information from individuals and groups.
He described phone conversations and phone numbers as confidential as stipulated in Section 38 and 39 of the Nigeria Constitution.
According to him, it is the Cybercrime 2015 Act and other similar legislation of the commission that grant the government to the power to provide biodata of individuals through interception by security agencies.
He identified the police and the Department of State Services (DSS) as capable of providing such information when it involves security of lives and property.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami disclosed this on Tuesday at the launch of the Strategic Vision Plan 2021- 2025, organised by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in Abuja.
The minister also noted that it is sometimes not easy to get the biodata or information on bandits because they use their victims’ phones to call their families to demand ransom.
He said, “If somebody is kidnapped, it is not your right to write to NCC, the supervisory minister or ministry to request for the identity of the number.
When something happens and a phone number is involved, your function is to transmit that number to security agencies like the police or DSS, go to them to state what happened and they know the procedure which they communicate to the NCC or technology agencies, it is their mandate to provide what is required.
“If we say that anybody can approach us for biodata of any SIM, definitely, it is going to be abused, it is because of this that it is only the security institutions that have the power to ask for that information.”
“Today, criminals mount roadblocks on the highways and seize telephones from travellers, sometimes they use the phones to contact their relatives. When it is presented, you will discover that the information is of the kidnapped victims but not the kidnappers,” he added.
Pantami’s past call to Jihad and unalloyed support for murderous groups like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda portray him as a dyed-in-the-wool Islamic fundamentalist.
Yet, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him as communications minister to control the country’s massive data and telephone infrastructure and other sensitive details of national intelligence.
The President also recently stood by the minister after his past support for terrorist groups became public knowledge.
“This jihad is an obligation for every single believer, especially in Nigeria,’’ Pantami said in one of his vicious preachings in the 2000s.
“Oh God, give victory to the Taliban and al-Qaeda (Allahumma’ nṣur Ṭālibān wa-tanẓīm al Qā‘ida).”