The Digital Rights Bill presented to the House of Representatives in the year 2015 has finally been passed into law by the Federal House of Representatives yesterday December 19, 2017. The bill sponsored by Honourable Chukwuemeka Ujam seeks “an act to provide for the Protection of Human Rights Online, To Protect Internet Users in Nigeria From Infringement of their Fundamental Freedoms and to Guarantee Application of Human Rights for users of Digital platform and/or Digital Media and for Related Matters.”
In his reaction to the passage Adeboye Adegoke, Program Manager of Paradigm Initiative, said “Paradigm Initiative is elated by this news because the Netrights Coalition we lead has put in serious effort in seeing the idea to fruition. We believe strongly in the potential it has to make a great impact in the development and recognition of digital rights in Nigeria. And we hope that after its passage, other African countries, and indeed the world, would follow suit.”
As much as the passage has brought a ray of hope to digital rights in Nigeria, we are not yet home free. As its the norm with Nigeria, making laws and approving bills by the National Assembly has not been an herculean task since time immemorial. The real challenge always has been the implementation of such laws. The non implementation of such laws eventually renders them redundant to the people they are supposed to serve.
The beauty of the digital rights law is that it will seek to protect Nigerians that have been vulnerable to abuse and prosecution as a result of them expressing themselves via social media. But two tasks is left for the bill. Implementation by the Federal Government and domestication by states.
This same tasks limited the functionality of the Freedom of Information bill several years after its passage. Many state of the Federation has made the bill inactive as they’ve failed to domesticate it. As a result, having the same concern about the Digital rights bill is in order.