A coalition of civil society organisations on Tuesday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sign the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill into law.
According to a statement signed by the Communications Officer, Paradigm Initiative, Sodiq Alabi, the Bill had been in the Parliament since 2016 before being passed by both chambers of the Parliament in 2018.
Paradigm Initiative has led the advocacy campaign in support of the Bill and it commended the National Assembly for transmitting it to the President today for assent.
According to Paradigm Initiative Executive Director, ‘Gbenga Sesan, “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.”
This is as the Executive Director of Enough Is Enough Nigeria,Yemi Adamolekun, also 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, lending a voice to the development, also said “As the World Wide Web turns 30, Nigerians can not 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.”
The President will have 30 days from the day it receives the communication from the National Assembly to assent to the Bill.
Speaking on the development, 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.
A 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.”