The Federal Government of Nigeria has successfully collected a substantial sum exceeding N200 million in penalties from multiple banks and various institutions for their infringement upon the data privacy rights of Nigerian citizens. Dr. Vincent Olatunji, the National Commissioner of the Nigeria Data Protection Commission (NDPC), revealed this significant development during a press conference held at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
The collection of these payments follows the recent signing of the Commission’s Act by President Bola Tinubu, signaling the government’s commitment to cracking down on data breaches in the country. Dr. Olatunji emphasized that the penalties imposed on the banks and institutions were the result of thorough investigations conducted by the Commission over the course of a year, uncovering various infractions committed against personal data privacy.
Although specific names of the banks and institutions were not disclosed, Dr. Olatunji clarified that more than 100 private sector entities were investigated for different levels of personal data privacy breaches. He highlighted cases in which individuals’ personal data was mistakenly captured by banks, leading to difficulties in accessing funds from their bank accounts. Additionally, he pointed out instances where customers fell victim to unauthorized money withdrawals due to breaches in personal data security.
Furthermore, Dr. Olatunji revealed ongoing investigations into data breaches involving a private university and certain insurance companies. He stressed the importance of all organizations acting as data Processors and Controllers appointing Data Protection Officers (DPOs) within their establishments. Additionally, he issued a stern warning that heads of government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) would be held accountable and subject to prosecution for data privacy breaches committed by their respective institutions, in accordance with the provisions of the new law.
In terms of compliance, Dr. Olatunji noted a slight improvement, with the percentage of MDAs adhering to data privacy laws rising from four percent to nine percent. He underscored that adherence to the primary legislation, endorsed by President Tinubu, would not only enhance Nigeria’s digital economy but also position the country on the global stage, elevating its recognition and strengthening its position in the global digital economy landscape.
The successful collection of over N200 million in penalties sends a clear message to financial institutions and other organizations regarding the seriousness of data privacy violations. The Nigerian government remains committed to safeguarding the personal data of its citizens and will continue to take decisive actions to ensure compliance with data protection regulations.