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Monday, Feb 18th

Nigeria: what will Buhari do with Digital Rights Bill?

Nigeria: what will Buhari do with Digital Rights Bill?

On 5 February 2019, Nigeria's National Assembly transmitted the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent. The Bill, which had been in Parliament since 2016, was passed by both chambers of the Parliament in 2018.

In April last year, at the Internet Freedom Forum 2018, experts described the Bill as a step in the right direction in strengthening digital rights on the continent.

Speaking at RightsCon, an international conference on digital rights hosted in Toronto, Canada, in May 2018 Gbenga Sesan, Paradigm Initiative Executive Director said the bill would ensure that digital rights are taken seriously in Nigeria and that those who violate these rights are held accountable under the law.

On the latest development Sesan added, "We are happy the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill has now been transmitted to President Buhari. Mr President now has a unique opportunity to position Nigeria as a leader in rights-respecting laws in Africa by signing the Bill into law."

Yemi Adamolekun, the Executive Director of Enough Is Enough Nigeria, said, "It is significant that the gesture is happening on a day globally celebrated as the Safer Internet Day. There is now global attention on Nigeria to finish the important work it started by signing the Bill into law."

The Africa Regional Coordinator of Web Foundation, Nnenna Nwakanma added, "As the World Wide Web turns 30, Nigerians cannot wait any longer for digital rights, freedoms and opportunities. The President's Assent is urgently needed to secure fundamental rights, to support a stronger digital economy, and to build a more secure internet."

Paradigm Initiative's Digital Rights Program Manager, Boye Adegoke said, "To its credit, the Muhammadu Buhari administration has signed some landmark Bills such as the Not too young to run Bill and the Disability Bill."

"If passed, the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill will add to what appears to be a forward-looking disposition of the Administration to policymaking. What President Muhammadu Buhari does with the Bill will go a long way to define the administration's disposition towards technology and its viability in improving the economic base of Nigeria," Adegoke said.

Digital rights advocate and lawyer Tomiwa Ilori said, "The bill is a potpourri of protected freedoms in the digital age. Nigeria will be at the cusp of history for being the first country to pass such comprehensive law with respect to securing human rights for the future. We have a golden opportunity of resetting digital policy across the board for human rights, we should take it."

The President has 30 days to confirm the Bill into law.

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