Thursday, March 21, 2019

Why Buhari refused to sign Digital Rights Bill - ITREALMS

President Muhammadu Buhari has declined assent to the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill, alleging conflict with proposed laws yet to be passed by the National Assembly. ” reports ITREALMS.

The Bill, ITREALMS recalls was transmitted to the President on February 5, 2019 by the National Assembly. 

But in a letter read on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday, March 20, 2019, President Buhari conveyed his decision to decline assent to the bill, alleging that it “covers too many technical subjects and fails to address any of them extensively.”

Reacting to this development, the pan-African digital rights advocacy organization, Paradigm Initiative, expressed disappointment over the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to decline assent to the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill, describing it "as a huge setback for human rights online in Nigeria.”

The Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, Mr. ‘Gbenga Sesan told ITREALMS that despite Buhari's refusal that the work has to go on.

“Work will continue on the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill in Nigeria, and in other countries where Paradigm Initiative is now working with partners on the adoption of similar positive rights legislation,” he declared.

Pointing out that they are not deterred at all, insisting that "efforts of our coalition on the Bill are not a lost cause. Although the President’s refusal to assent the bill is a setback, we are currently liaising with our partners towards a strategy to take this work forward. At stake is the state of human rights online in Nigeria, which is too important to abandon, and which we have dedicated ourselves to protect,."

Also, the group acknowledged the President's willingness to sign a bill focused on "the protection of human rights within the digital environment,” and vowed to work with the National Assembly and other stakeholders to make this a reality.

Equally commenting on the development, Paradigm Initiative’s Programme Manager, Boye Adegoke said, “We also acknowledge the role that certain stakeholders played including the role of a government agency that premised their opposition to the Bill on the fact that some of Bill's provisions are currently the subjects of various National Assembly Bills. We consider it strange that assent was denied to a Bill on the ground that its provision could conflict with proposed laws that have not been passed by the national assembly. ”

The Digital Rights and Freedom Bill makes provision for the protection of human rights online and has been praised by experts for its forward-looking provisions on human rights and its potential to help protect users of digital tools. 

Uboshe Uboshe/Editor

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