PARADIGM initiative Nigeria has cautioned the Senate 9th Assembly against passing oppressive legislation on an alleged proposed bill to monitor and punish internet users.
In a press statement, the organisation said a bill titled “Protection from internet falsehood and manipulations bill, 2019 had been presented to the Senate for first reading.
The bill is said to have appeared in the Senate order paper for 5th November 2019 sponsored by the Senator representing Niger East, Mohammed Sani.
Advising against the bill, PIN said although they do not have full knowledge of the content of the bill but a bill with the same name exists in Singapore.
According to them, in Singapore, the bill prevents electronic communication from false statements and also provided measures to be taken by the government in cases where it occurs.
“We have sufficient cause to believe that this Bill contains elements that may affect the right to free expression of internet users in Nigeria and we intend to follow up on it as it goes through the legislative process and is officially gazetted,” the statement read.
PIN asserted that the recent change of name of the Ministry of Communications to Ministry of Communications and Digital economy was a step forward and must not reprobate.
They said if the bill is passed, it will restrict speech and repress freedom in the digital space.
Program Manager at the Paradigm Initiative, Boye Adegoke said the digital space must remain open with an emphasis on positively affirming and protecting the rights of internet users as opposed in the proposed bill.
PIN is a non-governmental organisation that advocates for digital rights of under-served Africans and on development of public policy for internet freedom.
The organisation operates in Nigeria, Lome, Togo Yaound, Cameroon Arusha, Tanzania (East Africa) and Lusaka, Zambia.
“We, therefore, call on the Nigerian Senate and the National Assembly not to pursue such repressive legislation that will serve no good to Nigeria and Nigerians,” Adegoke said.