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Group wants digital rights bill signed into law before next year’s polls

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Paradigm Initiative has expressed concern over the delay in transmitting the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill (#HB490) to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent, urging the legislative and executive arms to ensure that the bill is signed before the 2019 elections.

This was contained in a statement issued at the weekend by the communications officer of the organisation, Sodiq Alabi.

The senate initially passed the landmark bill in March 2018 after the House of Representatives passed it in December 2017.

After an eight-month delay, the National Assembly reworked Clause 4 of the bill after its directorate of legal services raised a concern. The senate passed the new version on Tuesday, November 27.

The bill provides for the protection of human rights online, protects internet users from infringement of their fundamental freedoms and guarantees the application of human rights for digital platform users.

Digital rights programme manager of the group, Adeboye Adegoke, spoke about the delay experienced in transmitting the bill to the president.

His words: “Since the first passage of the bill, we have been following up with the National Assembly on its onward transmission. We sent freedom of information requests, which were not replied, and have since been left to wonder why it is taking so long to transmit the bill to the president for assent.”

“Now that the senate has reworked and re-passed the bill, we hope that the bill will be immediately transmitted to the president.”

Executive director of the digital rights and inclusion group, ‘Gbenga Sesan, also provided some succour while speaking on the issue.

“We are in constant communication with key stakeholders in the National Assembly and we have been assured that the bill would soon be forwarded to President Buhari for assent.

“Given the president’s recent spate of refusal to assent to a number of bills sent by the National Assembly, it is understood that the legislature is doing extra work to ensure that the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill is not refused assent for technical reasons.

“A senator was recently quoted as saying that Buhari refused his assent to 15 bills in a single day, and we do not want to see the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill suffer such fate,” said Sesan.


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