Group Restates Call for Passage of Digital Rights Bill

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Muhammadu Buhari

Paradigm Initiative, a group advocating for the passage of Digital Rights Bill, has said it will continue to engage relevant stakeholders to ensure the passage of Bill.

In February this year, President Muhammadu Buhari declined assent to the Bill after it was passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate at the 8th National Assembly.

The Digital Rights and Freedom Bill, which seeks to protect the rights of internet users in Nigeria from infringement of their fundamental freedoms and to guarantee application of human rights for users of digital platforms, was reintroduced by the current 9th National Assembly, and it has passed the first reading at the House of Representatives.

Pleased with the re-introduction of the Bill, Program Manager at Paradigm Initiative, Boye Adegoke, said: “On April 18, 2019, we hosted a stakeholder roundtable in Abuja to review the reasons President Buhari declined assent to the Bill.

“The roundtable gave a unique opportunity for us to get robust stakeholder feedback and buy-in into the objective of the Bill from stakeholders.

“We have on the basis of that revised the Bill and we are glad for the immediate attention it has received from the National Assembly.”
In a related development, the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has commended Paradigm Initiative for its advocacy work in Nigeria and urged the organisation not to rest on its oars. The commendation was given while the court was delivering judgment in a case instituted by the organisation against the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and the Attorney General of the Federation.

The case was instituted to compel NIMC to suspend the implementation of its Digital Identity systems in Nigeria pending the time Nigeria enacts a comprehensive data protection law. The advocacy group also identified the issues of law, security lapses and privacy concerns as reasons for the call for suspension of the exercise.

The Presiding judge, Hon Justice Ifeoma Ojukwu while delivering her judgment had stated that the first respondent must do more in the area of security to avoid a breach of citizens’ rights to privacy.

According the judge “It is not sufficient to have lofty ideas, it must be married with overall interest of the public. The protective laws and parameters must be in place for adequate implementation of the policy”.

Although the court dismissed the substantive case due to the Nigerian Data Protection Regulation introduced by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) during the period of the case, but the judge emphasised the relevance of the case for public good.