Monthly Archives

March 2016

Microsoft in Partnership with Paradigm Initiative Nigeria Unveils ‘Tech4Good Day’ 2016

By | Press Release

 

‘Tech 4 Good Day’ (previously known as NGO Connection Day) over the past 7 years, has been a training, networking and information-sharing event for non-profit organizations. Microsoft has partnered with Paradigm Initiative Nigeria to help NGOs adopt Microsoft technology, use social media effectively, understand digital security, use research and report publishing tools, as well as web/blog development. In the recent years, the focus has been getting the NGOs acquainted with Office 365 as a huge productivity platform in the cloud. This year, ‘Tech 4 Good Day’ will strengthen this focus by dedicating more sessions to helping the participating organizations understand Office 365 in details, as well as walking them through the different scenarios/testimonials of the platform. This will be done in addition to the trainings on social media, research, and digital security.

According to PIN’s Chief Operating Officer, Tope Ogundipe; “Technology is a powerful tool that can transform nonprofits, helping them to work smarter and achieve more. However, for many nonprofit professionals, technology is a source of confusion and frustration. Tech 4 Good Day is focused on harnessing the technology strength and skill of non-profit employees to develop solutions that benefit the social sector.” Fielding a question on who may attend, she adds; “Tech 4 Good Day is only open to local nonprofits and social enterprises. There is an application process involved and only selected organizations would be sent an invitation. The invitation is non-transferable.”

Tech 4 Good Day is slated for 11 May 2016 and would hold in Lagos Nigeria. Organizers are not able to provide accommodation or travel support to those who may be coming from outside Lagos, only meals and conference materials are provided. The registration link bit.ly/tech4good2016 is open until Wednesday 6 April 2016.

Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) is a social enterprise that connects underserved youth with ICT-enabled opportunities, with specific concern about the ill effects of unemployment and poverty, among other vices that limit the potential contribution of young Nigerians to the nation’s economy. We have worked with government, civil society, private institutions and international organizations including the United Nations to set standards in ICT education, tele-center support, ICT applications in rural areas, and other ICT interventions in Nigeria.

For more information please contact: ‘Tope Ogundipe, Chief Operating Officer, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria or call + 234 1 342 62 45, or send a mail to info@pinigeria.org

 

 

Court Directs NGOs To Put National Assembly ‘On Notice’ Over Motion To Restrain It From Passing Anti-Social Media Bill

By | Internet Freedom

LAGOS, Thursday, March 24, 2016: A Federal High Court in Lagos has directed that the National Assembly be “put on notice” before the court would consider an application seeking to restrain both the Senate and House of Representatives from passing the Frivolous Petitions (Prohibition, Etc) Bill, otherwise known as the Anti-Social Media Bill.

A Federal High Court in Lagos has directed that the National Assembly be “put on notice” before the court would consider an application seeking to restrain both the Senate and House of Representatives from passing the Frivolous Petitions (Prohibition, Etc) Bill, otherwise known as the Anti-Social Media Bill.

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun-Ishola gave the directive while declining to grant a motion exparte brought by three non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Enough is Enough Nigeria (EIE); Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), in a suit challenging the constitutionality of the proposed Law.

Mr. Olumide Babalola, lawyer to the NGOs, had brought the motion on March 23,  asking the court to issue an interim injunction to restrain the National Assembly from taking further steps at deliberating on and/or reading the Frivolous Petitions (Prohibition etc.) Bill 2015 for the purpose of passing it into law pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit pending before the court.

The organizations also sought an interim order of the court directing the parties in the suit to maintain the status quo pending the hearing and determination of the suit and to refrain from all acts that would undermine the adjudicatory powers of the court over the subject matter of the suit pending the hearing and resolution of the suit.

Observing that the suit is a very crucial one, Justice Olatoregun-Ishola  said the Senate and House of Representatives ought to be in the know.  She, however, advised Mr. Babalola not to hesitate to approach the Court if there is any adverse act by the National Assembly on the matter during the Easter vacation.

The respondents in the suit filed on March 21 by Mr. Babalola on behalf of the NGO are the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the National Assembly, Senator Abdulfatai Buhari, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information, Communications Technology and Cybercrime; Senator David Umaru, Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary; Senator Samuel Anyanwu,Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges;  Senator Bala Na’Allah, the Deputy Majority Leader of the Senate and sponsor of the Bill; and the Attorney-General of the Federation.

In the substantive suit, the NGOs are seeking:

  • A declaration that the first seven Respondents’ legislative reading and attempt to pass the Frivolous Petitions Bill into Law is illegal and unconstitutional as it violates their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and the press, and the right to privacy of citizens, their homes, their correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications as guaranteed by Sections 37 and 39 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004;
  • A declaration that the first seven Respondents’ legislative reading and attempt to pass the Bill into Law is illegal and unconstitutional as it is likely to violate their rights to freedom of expression and the press and the right to privacy of citizens, their homes, their correspondences, telephone conversations guaranteed by sections 37, 39 and 46 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and Article 9 of the African Charter;
  • A declaration that the first seven Respondents’ deliberations, committee meetings, public hearings of the Bill with the aim of passing it into Law is illegal and unconstitutional as it is likely to violate their fundamental rights to freedom of expression and the press;
  • A perpetual injunction restraining all the respondents, their agents, officers and/or   representatives from further considerations giving effect to and/or passing the Bill into Law as it violates extant provisions of Sections 37 and 39 of the Constitution and Article 9 of the African Charter; and
  • A perpetual injunction restraining the first seven Respondents , their agents, officers and/or representatives from further  deliberating, meeting and/or reading the Bill with the aim of passing it into Law.

The NGOs are contending that the provisions of the Bill are not justifiable in a democratic setting and would further deepen corruption in Nigeria as it seeks to gag the press and whistleblowers who report untoward practices within private and public circles.

They are also claiming that the Bill would hamper the investigation and prosecution of crimes in Nigeria as informants and witnesses  would now be disqualified for failure to first depose to affidavits, adding that their rights as journalists and organizations promoting freedom of expression, freedom of the press and good governance would also be violated.

Justice Olatoregun-Ishola has adjourned further proceedings to April 13, 2016.

For further information, please contact:

Ms Mosunmola Oladapo

Legal Officer, Media Rights Agenda

E-mail: mosun@mediarightsagenda.net

 

PARADIGM INITIATIVE NIGERIA HOSTS INTERNET FREEDOM FORUM 2016 (#IFF2016)

By | ICT Policy, Press Release

The two-day event took place on the 8th and 9th March 2016, and had delegates from Cameroun, Cote D’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda in attendance. The Internet Freedom Forum is a yearly event focused on indices around Internet Freedom in Nigeria. This year’s forum deepened discussions on how freedom and openness on the Internet promotes.

The keynote for the event was delivered by Nani Jansen, the Legal economic and social development in Nigeria and around Africa, discussions usually involve policymakers, lawmakers, academic institutions and civil society organizations, amongst other stakeholders.  Director at Media Legal Defense Initiative. Drawing on the global context of online right issues, Nani spoke about liability of third party content, the role intermediaries play in monitoring content published online and the challenges they face for not taking down content which is not necessarily illegal, but is offensive to certain parties. Following her presentation were 7 highly engaging panels over the duration of the forum. Topics ranged from ‘Internet Freedom views across the African Continent’ to ‘Women’s rights Online,’ in celebration of International Women’s Day. There were also panels on the ‘Digital Rights and Freedom Bill,’ ‘Internet Surveillance and Government Transparency,’ ‘Internet Freedom as key to Active Citizenship,’ and ‘Data Privacy and Lack of Regulatory Framework.’ The African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedom was also launched during the two-day event.


The discussions drew participation from both the executive and legislative arms of government with the Ministry of Communications on the panel discussing ‘Internet Surveillance and Government Transparency,’ and the Ministry of Justice on the panel discussing ‘Data Privacy and Lack of Regulatory Frameworks.’  The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki was represented by his Special Adviser on Information Communication Technology, Mr. Yakubu Ibrahim at the launch of the ‘African Declaration on Internet Rights and Freedom.’ The Vice-Chairman, House Committee on Telecommunications, Hon Emeka Ujam, sat on the panel that reviewed the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill and promised to ensure the bill is read twice on the floor of House of Representatives in the year 2016. In the same vein, his counterpart from the Senate, Senator ‘Jide Omoworare; Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, promised to support the bill to see the light of the day at the Senate. The Office of the National Security Adviser equally made an appearance at the forum.
‘Gbenga Sesan, The Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria while speaking on the Internet Surveillance and Government Transparency panel posited that “It is important to have the conversation on the safeguard of citizens’ right in the online space so that people are not wrongly accused and so that when people who work in the security agencies become ordinary citizens, they will also be protected by the frameworks put in place” Also, the newly appointed Special Assistant to President Buhari on New Media, Tolu Ogunlesi who moderated the final session at the Internet Freedom Forum remarked that “While Internet freedom is the key to active citizenship, active citizenship is also the key to Internet freedom”. In his closing, Program Manager ICT Policy at Paradigm Initiative Nigeria ‘Boye Adegoke hinted that the forum will have a broader representation in year 2017, and urged delegates to keep doing the great work in the defense of a free and open Internet.

The event held with support from Google, AccessNow, Facebook, Civicus, Internews, and Alliance for Affordable Internet. Media Partners include TechCabal and Civil Society News.  SMILE Nigeria was present as Broadband Partner.

For collage of pictures at the Forum, kindly visit: https://pinigeria.org/iff/pictures/
For video of the Forum, kindly visit: https://pinigeria.org/iff/video/
If you would like more information about this topic or further project description on PIN’s Internet Freedom Advocacy work, please call PIN’s ICT policy office on +234 9 291 63 01 or mailinfo@pinigeria.org

#SocialMediaBill: Nigeria’s Social Media Bill is back, and it’s time to drop this dangerous legislation once and for all

By | ICT Policy, Press Release

By  ‘Gbenga Sesan and Deji Olukotun

There’s a battle going on in Nigeria over a dangerous bill that threatens free expression online. The good news is that people in Nigeria are fighting back, and it recently appeared that the draft law — nicknamed the “Social Media Bill” by concerned citizens — was beaten back. But this week, the Senate revived the bill with little notice. Unless the global community stands in support of those fighting for free expression in Nigeria, we may soon see this vaguely worded, misguided legislation move forward — and the bad ideas that it contains get copied and pasted into legislation in other countries where free expression is under attack.

Specifically, the draft bill — officially called “An act to prohibit frivolous petitions; and other matters connected therewith” — would require any person submitting a petition to the government to have an accompanying affidavit, making it much more difficult, and costly, for people to complain about public services or graft. Further, the text imposes harsh penalties for tweets or text messages that convey false statements about a wide range of actors — from “a group of persons” to an “institution of government.” Nigerians who violate these provisions could be fined up to N2,000,000 ($10,000) or spend up to two years in jail.

In short, the bill criminalizes speaking out against individuals or groups online, including expressing dissent against the government, with vague and disproportionate restrictions that do not strictly adhere to legitimate purposes.

What’s worse, the language in the draft bill is so broad that it’s not clear that internet users would even understand how to comply with the law. It would be difficult to determine whether a post is intended to “set the public against” a vaguely defined group. At the same time as being overbroad, the bill is illogically specific. It targets WhatsApp, the private messaging application, and Twitter, the microblogging platform. That’s a particular threat to journalists in Nigeria who use these platforms to report on issues of public interest, and it could knock out a vital tool for combatting corruption and keeping government accountable.

The threat to free expression is compounded by the threat to innovation in Nigeria. Already the continent’s largest economy, Nigeria has 15 million Facebook users and over 97 million mobile internet subscriptions. Its technology sector is rapidly expanding. This restrictive law would only deter investment and discourage further development of Nigeria’s internet ecosystem.

Fortunately, activists in Nigeria are continuing to speak out, protesting both on and offline. In addition, if the bill passes into law, there may be legal avenues for fighting it. There are strong protections for free expression in Nigeria’s constitution, and Nigeria has also ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right, which guarantees this right. Furthermore, free expression is protected under international law, and the United Nations has specifically stated that the right to free expression applies online.

Last week, Senate President Bukola Saraki reassured activists when he stated that section 4 of the bill would not be passed. (He appeared to be referring to section 3(4), which prescribes the penalties for social media.) Yet the Senate has since suddenly revived the bill and set a Public Hearing — part of the legislative process — for Monday, March 7. Whether or not section 3(4) is struck from the text, the Social Media Bill should not be passed.

Nigerian President Buhari has stated that he would not sign any bill that doesn’t comport with Nigeria’s constitution, and the Social Media Bill clearly does not. Yet the unrelated Cybercrime Act of 2015 is now in force, and through sections 24(a) and 24(b), imposes harsh penalties for speech in the name of security that violate the right to free expression. Clearly, it’s best to stop this bill now, before it gets any closer to becoming law.

It’s not only Nigeria’s leadership, free expression, and innovation that are at stake. In internet law and policy, even when a law is beaten back, it often gets reanimated in legislatures across the globe.

To fight back, the global community that cares about free expression needs to unite behind common principles, and spread the word: when users’ rights are under attack, we have your back. As members of the Nigerian Senate hold the public hearing, they should not be left in doubt regarding the dangers of the Social Media Bill or any other bill that clamps down on expression online. It should be withdrawn immediately. Nigerians have spoken out, and their leaders should listen.

 

‘Gbenga Sesan is the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria. PINigeria.org

Deji Olukotun is Senior Global Advocacy Manager for Access Now. Accessnow.org

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