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SERAP Wants Privacy Details of Election Data from INEC

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr Mahmood Yakubu, has been urged to publish the details of safeguards and mechanisms put in place to protect the privacy and security of election information and data in the custody of the organisation, including in its servers, databases and other electronic formats.

This appeal was made by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in a Freedom of Information (FoI) request dated March 26, 2022.

In the document signed by SERAP deputy director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP urged him to “clarify whether any third-party is involved in the collection, control, and use of election information and data, the legal rules and processes guiding the choice of any such third party”.

SERAP also urged him to “clarify the other location or locations where election information is stored apart from Abuja, and the details of any third-party who has access to such a database, the safeguards and contingency plans put in place by INEC to address any threats to the privacy and security of election information”.

“Ensuring adequate safeguards and mechanisms to protect the privacy and security of election information and data would improve the ability of INEC to effectively discharge its constitutional and statutory duties”.

SERAP said: “This would also help to remove risks of attack and unlawful interference by any unauthorised person with election information and data”.

According to SERAP, “Widely publishing the details of safeguards and mechanisms of election data and information would also contribute to improving the sanctity and integrity of the electoral process, and public trust and confidence in the process”.

The letter, read in part: “Putting in place adequate technological security measures to prevent unauthorized access to election information and data would improve the credibility of the electoral process and the enjoyment of people’s right to participate in their own government.

“As an institution, which collects, controls and uses election-related information and data in the discharge of its constitutional and statutory duties, INEC has a legal responsibility to ensure adequate protection of such information and data from threats and vulnerabilities to attack or interference.

“Any interference by unauthorised third party in election information and data may be used for corrupt, political and other unlawful purposes, and would expose election systems to fraud and meddling, as well undermine the right to participation and the country’s democratic system.

“The right of people to participate in their government is a fundamental feature of any democratic society, and any infringement of privacy and security of election information and data would strike at the heart of representative government.

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel INEC to comply with our request in the public interest.

“SERAP notes that voter registration systems and voting systems are the most vulnerable and susceptible to manipulation by corrupt politicians and other actors.

“As the experiences in other countries have shown, election information is often susceptible to unlawful interference by corrupt politicians and other actors, which can be damaging to the integrity of the electoral process and democratic practices.

“The experiences of other countries demonstrate the need for INEC to take effective and transparent measures to ensure and protect the privacy and security of election information and data, which would protect the integrity of the country’s democracy.

“Any privacy or security weakness in any component of any of the election systems can be easily exploited to cast doubt on the integrity of the electoral process.

“Our requests are brought in the public interest, and in keeping with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the Electoral Act, the Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s international obligations including under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance.

“SERAP notes that Section 9(2)(a) of the Electoral Act 2022 provides that INEC ‘shall keep the Register of Voters in its National Headquarters and other locations as the Commission may determine.’ The provision also states that INEC ‘shall keep the Register of Voters in electronic format in its central database.’

“Section 153 of the Act defines ‘electronic format’ to include ‘the electronic version of the Register of Voters or National Electronic Register of Election Results, as the case may be, created, recorded, transmitted or stored in digital form or in other intangible forms by electronic, magnetic or optical means or by any other means.”

The organisation said: “Section 37 of the Nigerian Constitution, article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights protect against arbitrary or unlawful interference with one’s privacy.

“Interference with the privacy of election information and data would clearly undermine the security of any such information and data. Similarly, Article 9 (1) of the African Charter provides that, ‘Every individual shall have the right to receive information.

“Article 2(10) of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance requires states parties including Nigeria to ‘promote the establishment of the necessary conditions to foster citizen participation, transparency, access to information, and accountability in the management of public affairs.’”

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Eaton Calls for Stoppage of Sulphur Hexafluoride Gas 

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By Adedapo Adesanya

Leading power management company, Eaton Nigeria, has advocated the regulation of sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) gas usage in electrical power distribution networks.

This call was made during the company’s Power & Water Nigeria Exhibition and Conference 2022, an event that connects the Nigerian utility industry.

The event which was organised by Vertex Global services saw the participation of experts and exhibitors from over 20 countries.

The gathering enabled global stakeholders to access engaging technical discussions, on-the-spot assessment of the region’s opportunities in power generation, distribution, renewables, and water & utility sectors; as well as exhibitions from leading local and international suppliers.

During his presentation on the topic, A Call to Action on the ‘dirtiest’ greenhouse gas in clean energy, Mr Charles Iyo, Regional Sales Manager Eaton West Africa said “Sulphur hexafluoride gas which is used in the production of most switchgears remains one of the world’s potent greenhouse gases that adversely affect the environment. 1kg of SF6 is equivalent to 23,500 Kg of CO2 in global warming potential, and each unit of switchgear is estimated to use 2.5 kg of SF6 gas; which makes it devastatingly dangerous to the climate.”

“Government in Africa, especially Nigeria needs to take proactive measures such as implementing new regulations to ban the use of SF6 Gas in switchgear production. Also, regulatory bodies and industry stakeholders need to collaborate and elevate industry practice and policies to implement the use of SF6 free technology thereby creating a safe and sustainable future,” he added.

Mr Iyo further highlighted SF6-free alternatives that could positively combat climate change, saying the adoption of vacuum technology is considered a safe, compact and reliable alternative to SF6 gas in the production of switchgears.

Eaton has been at the forefront of advocating the elimination of SF6 gas globally. The power management company pioneered SF₆ free medium voltage switchgear production in 1960 with Magnefix, a compact solution for distribution system operators.

The various range of SF6 free switchgears are produced with environmentally friendly technology in comparison with the methods used by many other suppliers, which use SF6 as insulation gas.

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OVH Energy Rewards Distributors for Outstanding Performance

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By Adedapo Adesanya

Leading supplier and distributor of refined petroleum products, OVH Energy Marketing, has rewarded its top-performing lubricant distributors for their outstanding performance at a presentation ceremony held in Lagos.

During the presentation ceremony which happened at Aspamda Market, two qualified distributors who each sold over 1 million litres of lubricants were recognized in line with the management’s commitment to award deserving distributors.

Chucorl Nigeria Limited and Ade De Young Auto Limited, who met and exceeded the set target in the distribution of OLEUM lubricants, were awarded OLEUM branded trucks at the ceremony.

Speaking at the event, the Chief Executive Officer, OVH Energy Marketing, Huub Stokman posited that the ceremony was organized to reward top-performing distributors as well as inspire others through their exemplary feats.

“Our distinctive progress as the leading downstream oil and gas company is built on the commendable dedication and support of our partners as well as the contributions of our staff. I applaud the awardees and other OLEUM distributors for their diligence and resourcefulness in making sure that the OLEUM range of lubricants remains a market leader,” he said.

“Oleum is a product made in Nigeria, by Nigerians, for Nigerians. Our dream is to formulate the best lubricant available in the Nigerian market at a very affordable price. The hard work of our partners continues to contribute immensely to the growth of the organization and for that we are thankful,” he continued.

Commenting at the presentation ceremony, Mr Lateef Adeleke, owner Ade De Young Auto Ltd., an awardee said “I appreciate the company for this initiative to reward distributors with branded trucks. Rewarding deserving distributors with the branded trucks is a thoughtful initiative from OVH Energy Marketing.”

On his part, Mr Oliver Jacob, CEO Chucorl Oil and Gas Limited said “This acknowledgement from OVH Energy Marketing is indeed an incentive to do even more. The trucks will be valuable in strengthening our supply chain and meeting our increasing consumer demand.”

In recent years, OVH Energy Marketing has embarked on diverse empowerment initiatives such as the OLEUM Academy and the Mechanic Oleum Reseller Enterprise Initiative.

OLEUM academy has impacted over 5,000 individuals nationwide through the provision of automotive mechatronics, lubrication, and entrepreneurship training.

The Mechanic Oleum Reseller Enterprise Initiative is an avenue for auto-technicians to boost their income through the sales of lubricants in their workshop.

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Capital Market Can Attract Funds to Solve Nigeria’s Infrastructure Deficiency—Yuguda

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By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr Lamido Yuguda, has again emphasised that the current infrastructure deficiency in Nigeria can be solved with the help of the capital market.

While addressing the new executives of the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) in Abuja over the weekend, he said all that was needed was for the government to partner with the private sector to bridge the infrastructure gap by approaching the capital market for funding.

“We have a huge infrastructural deficit in the country like insufficient power, lack of good roads among others. We want our country to have good infrastructure and I know this is possible with the help of the capital market and other stakeholders.

“It requires adequate planning and financing and we can achieve it as a nation. The capital market through the private sector can fund road construction while the government focuses on other issues,” the SEC DG said, appealing to the relevant stakeholders to cooperate with the agency to achieve this goal.

He also said for the capital market to attain full potential, all stakeholders need to ensure they carry out their functions with integrity and fairness in a bid to restore investor confidence.

Mr Yuguda acknowledged CIS as a key partner in the commission’s regulation of the market, assuring that the SEC would continue to provide the needed support.

“On behalf of the Board and staff. We will give you all possible co-operation you desire to make your job easy. We are here to support this market and make it the market we all desire,” he said.

The SEC boss stated that derivatives trading has commenced for people who want to manage their risk, adding that the SEC is working to increase the literacy of Nigerians so they can take better decisions.

“The future for this country is bright and we have the young population to push it. We can have a much better standard of living than we have now and we hope you will continue to give a lot to the market.

“We are committed to any initiative that will further spur the growth of the capital market. We also have a review of the ISA bill pending at the National Assembly and that bill has a lot that will revitalize this market,” he added.

In his remarks, the President of CIS, Mr Oluwole Adeosun, commended the SEC for the relationship that exists between the Commission and the Institute and thanked the Management for always supporting the organisation.

“Thank you always because you have embraced the institute and made it clear that you desire a very harmonious relationship and we are happy about it.

“You have shown this in your actions since you came into office and we appreciate you for all your efforts, we pray that investors benefit greatly from their investments in the capital market. Thank you for all your support to the CIS Bill,” he said.

The former President of CIS, Mr Olatunde Amolegbe, also thanked the DG for the efforts the management has been making to support the CIS, adding that the institute has been able to function effectively due to the support of the SEC.

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