The National Assembly has reportedly approved a total sum of N4.87 billion budgeted for the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) in order to intercept, track, monitor calls and messages on mobile communication channels, including WhatsApp.
According to reports, the budgeted sum was included in the recent supplementary budget passed by the both chambers of the federal parliament last week.
Recall that The New Diplomat had reported that the Senate, last Wednesday passed a total sum of N982,729,695,343 for the 2021 supplementary budget, marking an N87billion increase from the initial proposed budget.
President Muhammadu Buhari had submitted the supplementary budget to the National Assembly two weeks ago, proposing the sum of N895.842,465,917bn in the document.
Buhari, in his explanation stated that the proposed budget would be used to fund the Covid-19 vaccine programme and health-related expenditures for treatment of additional 50,000 patients under the Nigeria Comprehensive AIDS Programme in states.
He also said that part of the money would be used to procure additional equipment captured in this year’s capital expenditure on Defence and Security to tackle prevalent security challenges across the country.
However, according to a copy of the budget in circulation, a sketchy N4.87bn was approved for the NIA.
Although details of the budget cannot be ascertained as of press time, however, indications suggested that NIA would spend N2,938,650,000 on the Thuraya interception solution, while the WhatsApp interception solution would gulp N1, 931,700,000.
Also, the NIA got an additional N129m to enable its personnel embark on foreign training.
Meanwhile, WhatsApp had recently in a statement assured that personal information are protected on its platform.
The telecommunication company added that the End-to-end encryption features on its app has ensured that no third party gets personal information.
The statement reads, “The government cannot read personal messages on WhatsApp. No third parties except for the sender and the receiver of the messages can read the messages which get forwarded on WhatsApp.”