The Nigerian government has budgeted N4.87bn to track and intercept calls and messages on WhatsApp and other messaging technologies.
Nigeria made the budgetary allocation to her intelligence, defense and security agencies.
The budget allocated some billions for the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA) to also monitor communications on encrypted messaging applications.
This is in line with the agency’s foreign intelligence and counterintelligence goal.
The goal is to protect the country from cybercrime and terrorism carried out through technologies and other means.
Nass Passes Bill presented by Buhari:
The National Assembly had approved the budget for the NIA to also track, intercept and monitor chats.
The budget is also to monitor calls on mobile devices with applications such as WhatsApp and Thuraya.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in June, transmitted a Supplementary Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly.
The president presented the bill of of N895.842, 465,917 billion to the assembly for consideration and approval.
Subsequently, both chambers of the federal legislature approved the supplementary budget.
This was despite being increased by President Buhari by about N87bn.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriation, Senator Barau Jibrin, disclosed this to newsmen.
Jibrin said the NIA budget is part of the bill sent to the chambers by the President.
The Senator also noted that the budget is equally for the procurement of military equipment.
He added saying the budget is also to be used to fight spread of COVID-19, among others.
Breakdown of the budget:
According to the Budget, the NIA will spend N1, 931,700,000 to monitor WhatsApp message and calls tracking and interception.
The NIA will, among the above, also use the funds to carryout counterintelligence.
It will also execute foreign intelligence collections to quell external threats to Nigeria’s national interests through WhatsApp and others apps.
Also, the agency will spend N2,938,650,000 on Thuraya solutions system.
Thuraya, is the mobile satellite services subsidiary of a leading global satellite operator, Yahsat.
Meanwhile, Yahsat is based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The investment vehicle of the Government of Abu Dhabi called, Mubadala Investment Company, owns Yahsat.
Recently, Nigeria’s former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina used Thuraya phone to evade arrest.
He had escaped To Niger Republic from Nigeria.
Maina had escaped to avoid trial over money laundering charges to the tune of N2 billion.
While in Niger Republic, he had evaded tracking for long by using a Satellite operated Thuraya phone that hid his location.
However, the NIA and the Nigerien’s Interpol later arrested Maina through concerted and collaborative efforts.
This, among other developments, informs the NIA’s attention to monitor communications through Thuraya solution system.
Also, understanding the need for training and retraining of personnel on world-class intelligence solutions, the budget allocation also earmarked N129m for the NIA to give its personnel foreign trainings.
The Defense Intelligence Agency
Similarly, Nigeria’s military intelligence arm, the Defence Intelligence Agency, (DIA) got N16.8bn for foreign and domestic military intelligence.
The DIA will also use the funds to lawfully carryout lawful voice and advanced data monitoring.
It will equally use the funds to intercept communications on tactical mobile geological platforms.
The DIA will also provide infrastructure and establish cyber intelligence centres and laboratories in the country.
Likewise, the Nigerian Navy got N157.7bn for its requirements which includes, procurement of vehicles, arms, ammunition, power supply, general hardware, surveillance equipment. It will also use N5.9bn to fuel capital ships.
Police Affairs Ministry:
Additionally, the Federal Ministry of Police Affairs got N4.1bn to use for the feeding of trainees.
While teaching allowance for the trainees and support staff got N257m, N582m is for monitoring and evaluation of training.
Also, N910m would be for their allowances and salaries.
The budget also provided for the Federal Ministry of Police Affairs to use N200m to fumigate 19 police training institutes in the country.
Also, the police will use N22.5bn for the procurement of drones and other intelligence equipment for surveillance.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Air Force got budgetary allocation of N239bn to buy additional aircraft.
The funds are also to procure arms and rehabilitate barracks.
The force will also use N8.2bn to maintain the aircrafts, buy fuel and construction of airfield facilities.
Also, the Office of the National Security Adviser got N17bn to complete a counter terrorism centre.
Likewise, the Defence Space Administration got a capital vote of N43.3bn to carryout cyber security and equipment tracking.
It will also use the funds to provide satellite imaging, drones and other infrastructure.