22.9 C
Abuja
Thursday, July 18, 2024

CITAD urges FG to assent to Digital Rights and Freedom Bill

Must read

The Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the digital rights and freedom bill in Nigeria.

A statement signed by the Program Officer, Digital Rights, Ali Sabo, noted that assenting to the bill woul pave way for more development in the country and drive the country’s digital space to a better level.

He said,”It is my honor and privilege to welcome you on behalf of the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) to this press conference which is being organized to draw the attention of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to assent to the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill in Nigeria which was passed by the National Assembly since 2018.

“It is imperative to know that assenting to this bill will pave way for more development in the country and drive the country’s digital space to a better level.”

Sabo pointed out that the bill when assented to would strengthen the citizens’ right to the internet and its free use without undue monitoring, help in identification of true owners of personal data which are the owners themselves, and encourage the stipulation of due process that should be followed before access is granted to government agencies and others to personal data of citizens, among other benefits.

“Before I go further let me refresh the minds of Nigerians about some of the benefits they will harness when this bill is being assented by Mr. President:”The bill when assented will strengthen the citizens’ right to the internet and its free use without undue monitoring.

“It will help in identification of true owners of personal data which are the owners themselves.

“The bill will also encourage the stipulation of due process that should be followed before access is granted to government agencies and others to personal data of citizens.

“Provision of clear identification for new digital terms such as protection of personal data and engagement of terms exhaustively and

“Provision against hate speech in Nigeria,” he said.

Sabo stressed that due to the refusal of the president to assent to this bill, Nigerians have been witnessing an increased in the violation of their digital rights by the Nigerian government and its security agencies.

According to him, some of the challenges posed to the digital rights of the citizens include various legislative pieces that were introduced at the National Assembly to control the way and how citizens access and use social media, the internet shutdowns in some parts of the country through the total disconnection of several communities from telecommunication infrastructure, the suspension of the operations of Twitter in the country for six months and the release of Code of Practice for Computer Service Providers/Internet Intermediaries and Conditions for Operating in Nigeria.

“All of these have consequences on the life of the citizens and will make it difficult for citizens to exercise their digital rights. Another implication is that the security agencies in the country will arbitrarily arrest, persecute and detain citizens with impunity as we have seen with case of Aminu Adamu a 500 level student of the Federal University, Dutse over alleged defamation of character of the wife of the president, Mrs. Aisha Buhari.

“May I also bring to your attention that even the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill passed by the National Assembly has a lot of loopholes and lack many important things. Some of the gaps we observed with Bill include the lack of wider consultations especially with non-state actors by the drafters of the bill.

“Another issue which need to be addressed is lack of proper engagement and responsibilities assign to the Civil Society Organizations in the implementation of the bill. With sideling of the major actors (CSOs) in the drafting and implementation of the bill if allow to be assented this way citizens are going to witness a semi draconian bill that did not speak to their minds and serve their interest rather the interest of government and security agencies,” he pointed out.

.He noted that it is imperative to know that section 37 of the Nigerian constitution as amended provides that the privacy of citizens and their correspondences are sacrosanct and must be protected but what “we are witnessing today is a total disregard and disrespect to this section by the Nigerian government through interference and surveillance of citizens activities online and their movement, this can be corroborated with the recent purchase of surveillance equipment by the Nigerian government”.

Sabo added,”Government intolerance and impunity is another major concern with regard to digital rights in the country, for example, last month two tiktokers in Kano State were arrested, detained and beaten on the order of Kano State Governor for earing their views online.

“Consequently upon these, we call on the Nigerian government to as a matter of public importance consider the followings:The president should ensure the speedy assent of the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill.

“CSOs should collaboratively work together for an aggressive advocacy to ensure the bill is being assented.

“The National Assembly to as a matter of public interest update and ensure the bill is all inclusive.”

- Advertisement -spot_img

More articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest article