The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has been given N4.8 (4,870,350,000) billion to monitor WhatsApp conversations, phone calls, and SMS messages, among other things.
The sum was divided as follows: N1.93 billion for the “WhatsApp Intercept Solution” and N2.93 billion for the “Thuraya Interception Solution” — a communications system used for monitoring voice conversations or call-related information, SMS, and data traffic, among other things.
This was included in the National Assembly’s supplementary budget on Wednesday.
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The legislators agreed and enacted a supplemental budget of N982 billion (982,729,695,343) for the fiscal year 2021, a N87 billion increase over the N895 billion recommended by President Muhammadu Buhari.
While N123.3 billion was set aside for recurrent (non-debt) spending, N895 billion was set aside for capital expenditure contributions to the Development Fund for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2021.
Another N45 billion in foreign aid/loans has been authorized.
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This funding allotment comes amid multiple attempts by the federal government to curtail freedom of speech in the nation – an act that many have labeled as an attempt to silence the media.
It comes little over a month after the federal authorities stopped Twitter’s operations in the nation on June 4.