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Thursday, March 09, 2006

JACITAD faults proposed IT bill

JOINT Action Committee on ICT Awareness and Development (JACITAD) has faulted the proposed Information Technology (IT) Bill being sponsored by Senator Iya Abubakar.

JACITAD is a non-governmental organization (NGO) formed in 2003 by ICT stakeholders to advance the course of ICT awareness and development in the country.

The Bill is seeking passage at the National Assembly for an Act to establish legal framework for IT industry, National Information Technology Commission (NITC) and the National IT Development Fund (NITDF).

The NGO in its submission to the public hearing held Monday in Abuja, said it is better to handle one at a time so as not to stifle the success or otherwise, any of the purposes of the bill since it would undergo readings and agreement from other members of the National Assembly.

Acting Secretary General of JACITAD, Mr. Prince Osuagwu, informed in a copy of the recommendation available to Champion Infotel that JACITAD believes that if the bill is allowed to go to the Senate for debate, with these three broad issues at the same time, it may eventually become cumbersome for any to see the light of the day and therefore take a long time to come into effect.

“The reason is that traditionally, every clause in the Bill may have to be debated in the house before being adopted and passed into law,” the group explained.

Stressing that the adverse effect of this bottleneck “may bog down the effective running of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), or commission as the case may be.”

Besides, JACITAD noted that some of the clauses of the legal framework seem to have been adopted verbatim from a foreign environment, which places the industry at the risk of domesticating, perhaps, foreign Acts erroneously imposed in local legal framework.

Citing an instance, JACITAD said while clause 31(2)a, of the bill, provides that “a person convicted for an offence under sub section (1) shall be liable for a fine of N100,000
and to a term of imprisonment of not less than 2 years, or both such fine and imprisonment”, clause 31(2)b states that “where as a result of the commission of an offence under subsection (1), the operation of the computer system, is impaired or data contained in the computer system is suppressed or modified, a person convicted of such offence shall be liable to a fine not exceeding 200,000 rupees and to a penal servitude for a term not exceeding 20 years”.

Therefore, JACITAD observed that both rupee and “penal servitude” are not, respectively, popular currency and operating legal system in Nigeria and called for domestication of the clauses.

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