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CITAD Urges Tinubu to Prioritize Digital Rights of Citizens

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By Ozumi Abdul

Centre for Information and Development (CITAD) has called on the new administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to prioritize the digital rights of the citizens.

The call was made during a press conference on Wednesday in Kano state.

While delivering the text of the press statement, the center’s Digital Rights Officer Mall Ali Sabo, recalled that earlier this month, the center called on the president to respect the digital rights of the citizens when he takes over the affairs of the country, as well as to ensure the protection of the citizens’ data and privacy.

He however rued that the digital space is currently facing a number of challenges, which he said are having a negative impact on the digital rights of citizens.

“There have been many reported cases of government censorship and taking down contents of citizens on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram without any justification or order from a court of competent jurisdiction.

“There have been instances where the government has ordered the shutdown of the internet and social media. For example, in 2020, the Nigerian government ordered the complete shutdown of Twitter for six months. It also disconnected parts of a number of states such as Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto, and Katsina states under the guise of fighting bandits. While banditry continued throughout the period, ordinary citizens found it difficult to communicate, even when they came under attack by bandits. This shutdown has jeopardized the lives of many citizens, crumbled businesses, and denied citizens their freedom of expression and association “, he said.

He then enjoined the new administration to set a comprehensive data protection, use, and sharing of personal data by public and private entities.

Sabo also called on Tinubu’s administration to ensure that Nigerians have the right access and share information freely online without censorship, intimidation, or harassment, and also work towards creating an enabling environment for online expression and digital journalism, protecting whistleblowers and strengthening mechanisms for transparency and accountability.

According to him, the increasing use of digital technologies in Nigeria has posed more risks for people who fall victim to cyber threats and attacks, hence the imperative need of the new administration of President Tinubu to work towards strengthening cyber security measures, to ensure safety and security of citizens’ online activities.

In a related development, the CITAD Digital Rights czar also called on the 10th national assembly to show the same zeal as that of their immediate predecessors of the 9th assembly in ensuring speedy passage of the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill, which according to him would enable the country to have comprehensive data protection system.

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