By Emma Okonji
Paradigm Initiative, an advocacy group, is currently mobilising Nigerians to mount pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, sign the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill into law without further delay.
The advocacy group is running an online campaign where it is collating signatures of Nigerians that would be sent to the president, which would best explain the people’s will and desire to have the bill signed into law.
The group vowed that the campaign would continue next Monday, and run daily until the bill is signed by the president.
They called on more Nigerians to participate in the online campaign that they said was already gaining momentum.
Giving reasons for the need to sign the Bill into law, the Chief Executive Officer of Paradigm Initiative, Mr. Gbenga Sesan, said: “After almost three years of legislative process, the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill was transmitted to President Muhammadu Buhari on February 5 for presidential assent, and since then the president was yet to assert the bill.
“We are calling on the president to sign the bill into law, to protect human rights online and help energise digital innovation,” he said.
The Digital Rights Bill provides for the protection of human rights online, protect internet users from infringement of their fundamental freedoms and guarantee the application of human rights for digital platform users.
The bill seeks to guarantee human rights within the context of emerging innovative technologies, security concerns, increasing citizen participation in governance and democratic processes.
The Digital Rights Bill is an assemblage of conventional rights aimed at making online spaces rights-inclusive and is an attempt at balancing the friction between security and human rights in the digital age.
The bill also addresses the subject of hate speech in a way that ensures safeguards for both the accused and alleged victim and ensures that free speech does not suffer in the process.
The bill when passed into law, is expected to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from global technology companies, aside strengthen the Nigeria technology industry by ensuring there is a positive regulatory environment.
It provides a regulatory environment for lawful surveillance and interception thereby helping law enforcement to carry out their duty leveraging technology.
Technology experts also stated that the bill would strengthen users’ trust. The experts who lauded the bill and the initiative of the group, said the legislation was a step in the right direction because of the value it would bring to the digital economy and the rights of people of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Paradigm Initiative has commended the gesture by the Liberian President, George Weah, to sign into law, a Bill to decriminalise libel in Liberia through an Act to amend the Liberian Codes Revised Penal Law of 1978.
The advocacy group called on President Buhari to draw the spirit of true democracy from the the Liberian President.
The act named Kamara Abdullah Kamara (KAK) Act of Press Freedom is a major milestone within the human rights framework in Liberia. The proposed Act was earlier submitted to Liberia’s 53rd Legislature by the administration of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. President Weah, however, proposed to the 54th Legislature that the name of the Act be changed to honour the late Abdullah Kamara, the former President of the Liberian Press Union.