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Business News

Digital Rights and Freedom Bill: Why Buhari maybe right to decline assent

Basically, the Digital Right and Freedom bill is aimed at protecting the rights of Nigerian online users. 

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BREAKING: President Buhari retains portfolio as Petroleum Minister

Nigerians’ collective sigh of relief over the possibility of finally getting an all-inclusive legislation on digital rights, was aborted on Wednesday when President Muhammadu Buhari declined assent to the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill.

Senate informed of the refusal through a letter: The President rejected the bill through a letter that was submitted to the Senate President and read during the legislature’s plenary session. Alongside the Digital Right and Freedom Bill, four other bills were also declined assent.

Why the President refused to assent: According to the presidency, the Digital Right and Freedom Bill was not assented because it contains too many technical subjects. It also did not extensively address any of the said subjects. Some of  the technical subjects as highlighted by Presidency, include: surveillance and digital protection, lawful interception of communication, digital protection and retention, etc.

Why the Digital Right and Freedom Bill?

In today’s world, access to digital platforms influences most aspects of people’s lives and work.

With an internet penetration rate of 46%, Nigeria has the largest number of internet users in Africa, and 7th in the world. Hence, the need for a law that governs, protects, administers/enforces the digital human rights becomes important.

Also, as technology continues to shape and disrupt the global current landscape, measures must be put in place to ensure sanctity for the citizens.

If the Digital Right and Freedom Bill was signed, it would have catapulted Nigeria to the comity of nations leading the charge for the protection of digital rights and online freedom.

Basically, the Digital Right and Freedom bill is focused on protecting the rights of Nigerian online users. It also protects internet users in Nigeria from the infringement of their fundamental freedoms.

Technically, the bill’s objectives are:

  • To guarantee the application of human rights offline and online within the digital space.
  • To provide safeguards against abuse and provide opportunities for redress where infringement occurs.
  • To ensure data privacy and safeguard sensitive citizens’ data held by government and privacy institutions.
  • To equip the judiciary with the necessary framework to protect human rights online.
  • To safeguard the digital liberty of Nigerians now and in the future.

Declined assent on bill a huge setback

Earlier, there have been pressures from activists and social groups for the president to approve the long-standing Digital Right and Freedom Bill, however, the President eventually declined to assent to the bill.

The Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, Gbenga Sesan earlier remarked:

‘Signing the bill, President Muhammadu Buhari will “position Nigeria as a leader in rights-respecting law in Africa.”

Commenting on the Digital Right and Freedom Bill transmission, Web Foundation’s Interim Policy Director, Nnenna Nwakanma, said:

“This Bill is important right now, not only for the digital rights of Nigerians but as a signal that Nigeria intends to be a regional tech leader. We’re urging the National Assembly to put this forward to the presidency for signature as a matter of urgency so Nigerian web users can be protected in an online environment that guarantees them the same rights online as offline.”

The Nigerian Film Commission bill and three others were also declined assent

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The President refused to append his signature to four other bills which include Nigeria Film Commission Bill, Immigration Amendment Bill, Climate Change Bill and Pension Practitioners of Nigeria Bill. The President cited several reasons why the other bills were also declined assents. 

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Buhari may be right, as earlier report already revealed the bill’s legal loopholes

According to the report by Doa-law firm in 2018, there were several surrounding issues to stall the bill. These include ambiguity and the utilisation of many undefined terms in the bill. For example:

  • The use of “personal data” and “private data” interchangeably in various sections of the proposed legislation without defining them.
  • Words such as “responsible party” require a more robust and comprehensive definition.
  • The terms “service provider” is undefined by the proposed bill which added the tone of ambiguity to the section.
  • Also, liability for a breach of data should be limited to such an extent that where a service provider has put in place reasonable security measures.
  • Another frailty noted in the bill is the absence of any provision that addresses the obligations of Data controllers, Processor and Service provider.
  • The law firm stressed that the passage of the bill without addressing issues highlighted would be to the detriment of the citizenry whose data would be the subject matter of such breach.
  • It was concluded that the bill may need to e reconsidered as it does appear to be quite harsh and may need restructuring at the committee team.

Way forward, Activists sue the President 

Rights groups, the Digital Rights Lawyers Initiative, and Laws and Rights Awareness Initiative have sued President Muhammadu Buhari at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja for not signing the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill 2018.

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They are seeking a declaration that, by virtue of Section 58(4) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the defendant lacks power “to remain silent and/or inactive” on the bill after 30 days of its transmission.

They are praying the court to declare that the President’s silence on the bill after 30 days of its transmission constitutes a violation of Section 58(4) of the 1999 Constitution.

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Samuel is an Analyst with over 5 years experience. Connect with him via his twitter handle

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Coronavirus

COVID-19 Update in Nigeria

On the 6th of March 2021, 195 new confirmed cases and 10 deaths were recorded in Nigeria

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Covid 19 update symptops

The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria continues to record significant increases as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 158,237 confirmed cases.

On the 6th of March 2021, 195 new confirmed cases and 10 deaths were recorded in Nigeria.

To date, 158,237 cases have been confirmed, 137,645 cases have been discharged and 1,964 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

A total of 1.54 million tests have been carried out as of March 6th, 2021 compared to 1.49 million tests a day earlier.

COVID-19 Case Updates- 6th March 2021,

  • Total Number of Cases – 158,237
  • Total Number Discharged – 137,645
  • Total Deaths – 1,964
  • Total Tests Carried out – 1,544,008

According to the NCDC, the 195 new cases are reported from 17 states- Lagos (70), Kaduna (22), Abia (20), Edo (18), Kano (10), Akwa Ibom (9) Rivers (7), FCT (7) Borno (6) Bauchi (5), Osun (5), Oyo (5), Plateau (3), Ekiti (3), Niger (2), Ogun (2) and Zamfara (1).

Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 56,374, followed by Abuja (19,328), Plateau (8,939), Kaduna (8,623),  Oyo (6,761), Rivers (6,651), Edo (4,645), Ogun (4,419), Kano (3,830), Ondo (3,066), Kwara (2,953), Delta (2,582), Osun (2,449), Nasarawa (2,248), Enugu (2,078), Katsina (2,060), Gombe (2,010), Ebonyi (1,951), Anambra (1,811), Akwa Ibom (1,588), and Abia (1,568).

Imo State has recorded 1,551 cases, Borno (1,297), Bauchi (1,232), Benue (1,188), Adamawa (942), Niger (917), Taraba (863), Ekiti (825), Bayelsa (779), Sokoto (769), Jigawa (496), Kebbi (401), Cross River (334), Yobe (288), Zamfara (221), while Kogi state has recorded 5 cases only.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Western diplomats warn of disease explosion, poor handling by government

Lock Down and Curfew

In a move to combat the spread of the pandemic disease, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days, which took effect from 11 pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.

The movement restriction, which was extended by another two weeks period, has been partially put on hold with some businesses commencing operations from May 4. On April 27th, 2020, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari declared an overnight curfew from 8 pm to 6 am across the country, as part of new measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19. This comes along with the phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos, and Ogun States, which took effect from Saturday, 2nd May 2020, at 9 am.

On Monday, 29th June 2020 the federal government extended the second phase of the eased lockdown by 4 weeks and approved interstate movement outside curfew hours with effect from July 1, 2020. Also, on Monday 27th July 2020, the federal government extended the second phase of eased lockdown by an additional one week.

On Thursday, 6th August 2020 the federal government through the secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 announced the extension of the second phase of eased lockdown by another four (4) weeks.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State announced the closed down of the Eti-Osa Isolation Centre, with effect from Friday, 31st July 2020. He also mentioned that the Agidingbi Isolation Centre would also be closed and the patients relocated to a large capacity centre.

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Due to the increased number of covid-19 cases in Nigeria, the Nigerian government ordered the reopening of Isolation and treatment centres in the country on Thursday, 10th December 2020.

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On 26th January 2021, the Federal Government announced the extension of the guidelines of phase 3 of the eased lockdown by one month following the rising cases of the coronavirus disease in the country and the expiration of phase 3 of the eased lockdown.

On 28th February 2021, the federal government confirmed that the first tranche of Covid-19 vaccines will arrive in Nigeria on Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021.

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READ ALSO: Bill Gates says Trump’s WHO funding suspension is dangerous

 

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Manufacturing

CBN tasks multinationals on domestic production as P&G signs $35m deal to produce Oral-B locally

The CBN Governor has called on multinationals operating in the country to work towards the production of their goods in Nigeria.

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The Central Bank of Nigeria, as part of its agenda to strengthen the manufacturing sector, has tasked multinational manufacturing companies in the country to consider setting up their manufacturing lines in Nigeria.

Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor made this statement during the contract signing ceremony between Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Colori Cosmetics Nigeria in Lagos.

The contract which is a move towards stimulating localization of production was birth from CBN’s policy-driven efforts to encourage improved production of goods that can be produced locally.

The Governor of Nigeria’s apex bank who was the host at the contract signing ceremony encouraged other multinational firms to consider the opportunities that Nigeria offers and begin to set up their manufacturing lines in Nigeria, noting that this move will help in creating jobs and wealth for the growing population.

Emefiele who also spoke on the economic stabilization policies implemented by the CBN to set Nigeria on the path of recovery explained that the manufacturing sector will continue to be a key focus of the efforts by the monetary and fiscal authorities towards driving the recovery of the Nigerian economy.

Why this matters

  • The investment deal which is worth $35 million is set to present the well-diversified consumer goods giant with the opportunity to commence the domestic production of Oral-B toothpaste in Nigeria.
  • The contract between P&G and Colori Cosmetics Nigeria will facilitate the local production of Oral-B products by P&G in Nigeria, as part of the commitment by the CBN to strengthen the manufacturing sector.
  • This move is expected to make Nigeria a competitive producer of the product, and also cut the importation of toothpaste from the US, where P&G is based.

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