The issues surrounding the strike by workers of the Sierra Leone Road Transport Authority (SLRTA) cannot be passed off as simply serious. In our view they are more than serious, because they constitute a threat to our national security.
The explanation is that the contract for Information Technology support was signed with a Nigerian firm, and the situation now is such that whenever anyone wants to do his or her driver’s license the SLRTA office in Sierra Leone must first contact Nigeria before anything can be processed. This is because the server containing all the files with the information for the hundreds of thousands of adult drivers is now located in Nigeria. This is not only absurd but totally ridiculous.
To us this is tantamount to surrendering our sovereignty to a foreign country. In practical terms this means that the identity of possibly over half a million Sierra Leoneans has been taken out of the country and it is now in the hands of foreigners. This is dangerous because as things stand now, neither officials of the SLRTA nor the government of Sierra Leone have any direct access to any of these files.
In case there is a national emergency like a bombing and the only detail is the person’s driving license, this means police work will be hampered and unnecessarily delayed until they call Nigeria and access the files and send back the information. When such information is available here the Police would go directly there and search. If even they want to search for similar faces or names it will be even easier, but with everything out of the country we wonder how possible that would be. And this is why we say that this issue borders on our national security.
Furthermore, these files not only have the pictures of hundreds of thousands of Sierra Leoneans but they also contain their bio data which includes age, address and so on. The most important or most critical is that these files have the scanned signatures of hundreds of thousands of adult Sierra Leoneans. With these data and personal details, passports can be made, bank accounts can be accessed with the scanned signatures, academic documents can be accessed and corrupted and a host of other criminal activities can be done if these files fall in the wrong hands.
Without casting a slur on the integrity of Nigerians, because many of them are honest and hard working, yet it is true that their compatriots have been known to involve in all sorts of criminal activity that it would be fool hardy for us to dismiss the probability of that not happening in this case.
This is an issue of enormous proportions and it borders on our national security. The ONS must investigate this now and the government must take swift steps to correct this situation otherwise. Sierra Leoneans my just find out that we have all become twins and we have doubles in several places around the world. So ONS please intervene.