By IHIDERO, Victor Osae
J.T. Maigemu is a self-made man, a philanthropist and a pious youth activist working in north western Nigeria. Within the circle of many who share similar passion in his sphere of contacts, his several transformational engagements with youths and the moral ground on which he does things earned him several saintly badges; one of which is the aliases, “A rising angel in the midst rising demons”. Like most Nigerians, J.T Maigemu spends over three-hours on the Internet everyday in search of information, communities, people and discussions that would aid his work. Every evening, he would go online to keep in touch with the digital natives there about the latest political trends, comments, commentaries and commentators in Nigeria’s hydra-headed political aqua. Facebook, WhatsApp, BBM, Instagram were his favourite and most visited online Applications. He would chat until 9:30pm, sometimes 10:15pm every day until sleep would sneak in to steal him. On one of its off-days during weekends, J.T Maigemu, opens up his WhatsApp account earlier than he used to and began a long chat with Suleiman on the group chat. Not long, Khadijah, James, Ayo, Musa, Tope, Ronald, Bada, Moh’d, Gertrude, Lammy and Gbenga joined in the chat. The matter under discuss centred on the bomb that recently went up air and the incompetence of past and present government to nipping criminal activities before hand. The matter was treated with much lightheartedness as they have always done and J.T Maigemu in his usual humorousness replied Musa’s last chat thus, “Dead men don’t die. Find them. Kill them all” on the chat thread. He was to send “Terrorist are dead men that should not be pitied” as follow up message when his accustomed visitor came to take him away.
On the Monday that followed, Maigemu went to work and returned lately. He could not chat for long. He went to the bathroom and took off his dress. He sat at the WC then proceeded to take a cold bath. He noticed something like a tiny camera lens hanging on the top corner of the bathroom but did not give it attention because it looked like mound. He picked his phone and discovered his naked pictures on them. He laughed and wondered at how the phone sometimes snapped people all by itself. He deleted them as the phone beeped. Musa was the fellow on the other end. “I have done it. Till tomorrow”, Musa said and ended the call. Maigemu dropped the phone and doused off. He woke up the following morning and discovered a CCTV in the front of his house. He was not scared because “I Have Nothing to Hide” is one of his aliases. He soon discovered CCTV everywhere he goes and he commended, within his breath, the efforts o security forces to keep people safe. He brings out his phone and snaps the CCTV in different poles and shares them with Musa, Ayo and others. Every turn he takes he sees security operatives. They stare at him as if not staring and makes sound on what looks like earphone. Maigemu was happy at the development. “This city would be safe now”, he thought. By 2:00pm his phone beeps. He opens it and sees BREAKING NEWS boldly written on it. He tries to read the news but it was Musa’s call that interrupted him. Musa is a journalist and he’s usually the first to break news to him especially when they are bad. The phone rings but dropped before he could answer it. “Twin bombs blast in Kano” reeled out of his screen. He dialed some numbers to call his folks at Kano. Khadeja picks but before she could talk for a 20 seconds the call dropped. He dialed again but it was switched off. He mutters a prayer and walks away.
He opened his door to discover that his house is being searched by unknown men. He tries to stop them but he’s held bound. The men picks up his external hard drive, his laptop and take his phone from him drops them into nylons of red label. They asked him whether they could see the content and he said, “I have nothing to Hide”. The men nodded. That is a lead for them. “I have nothing to hide” for them means “You have a lot to hide”. They force him into the jeep outside and zoomed off.
At the Interrogation Room at the office, naked pictures, online chat threads, phone call manuscripts and recorded videos were presented before him to defend. The Applications he subscribed to gives security operatives access to his data. They quizzed him over the meaning of “Dead men don’t die; find them, Kill them” and many other well-intent chats. He was confused. They asked him why he detonates bombs across the cities and who his allies are. He admitted innocence but they hit him hard probingly with verbal offensives. All the well-meaning answers he gave confirmed his guilt yet he is innocent. Musa, Tope, Khadejah, Ayo, Suleiman, Gbenga, James, Ronald were taken across for quizzing at the other end. Their responses to questions were sincere but they unknowingly implicated Maigemu. He indeed is innocent of all the charges against him but hardcore evidences brought against him means that he could join the folks at the penal complex. What would happen to Maigemu now?
Would you like a camera placed in your toilet, bathroom or in the front of your house monitoring you for security purposes? Would you give up your privacy for security?
This is the conversation Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) started following the “Internet Policy Training” and “Internet Freedom Forum” which took place in Kaduna recently.
Would surrender your privacy for security?