Can You Record Phone Calls and Conversations in Nigeria?
Currently, Nigeria has no law addressing the recording of communications between individuals. However, the Nigerian Constitution in Section 37 provides for the protection of the privacy of Nigerian citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications.
While the constitution does not clarify how the privacy of Nigerians should be protected, it is advisable to seek consent from all participants before recording phone calls and conversations.
Recording conversations without consent may expose you to liability as the aggrieved party may claim a violation of privacy under the constitution, especially if the information recorded or disseminated is confidential, false or amounts to libel.
Interception of Communications by Law Enforcement
In 2019, the Nigerian Communications Commission published the Lawful interceptions of Communications Regulations, 2019, a supplement to the Nigerian Communications Act 2003.
The regulations give power to law enforcement agencies to intercept communications provided by communication licensees (communications companies). Authorised agencies are required to first obtain a warrant from a judge, requiring the licensee to:
- Intercept any communication as described in the warrant.
- Disclose intercepted communications.
- Assist foreign authorities in accordance with an international mutual assistance agreement.
Warrants can only be issued for the following purposes:
- It is in the interest of national security as directed by the Office of the National Security Adviser or the State Security Services.
- For the purpose of preventing or investigating a crime.
- For the purpose of protecting and safeguarding the economic wellbeing of Nigerians.
- In the interest of public emergency or safety.
- Giving effect to any international mutual assistance agreements, to which Nigeria is a party.
However, Authorised Agencies are allowed to initiate interceptions without warrants provided a warrant is sought from a judge within 48 hours after the interception has occurred or began to occur and in the event of:
- The immediate danger of death or serious injury to any person.
- Activities that threaten national security.
- Activities having characteristics of organised crime.
If a warrant is denied after an interception has begun, any continued interception will be considered unlawful.
Any person, Licensee or its officers that fail to comply with these Regulations shall be liable to a fine of N5,000,000.00, and where such an offence is allowed to continue, the punishment is a daily default penalty of N500,000.00.
The constitution of Nigeria provides for the protection of the privacy of Nigerian citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications. Following this guideline, it is against the law to record videos that violate the privacy of others.
The rule of thumb is to avoid recording others when they are in a place where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. Examples of these include inside homes, changing rooms, hotel rooms, dressing rooms, etc.