Aug 04





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The NetRights Coalition strongly condemns the call for blanket social media regulation in Nigeria

We note with dismay the statement credited to Ministerial nominee and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Special Duties, Communications and Strategy, Mr. Dele Alake during his ministerial screening on the floor of the Nigerian Senate on Wednesday, August 2, 2023. During the session, Mr. Alake said: 

“I will recommend the strengthening of our regulations and the applications of those laws. The laws must be tested so we can know the proficiency of those regulations…..“I will support anything that comes from this hallowed chamber that promotes that course of action….“If there are laws, bills and motions in line with this, please be sure of our full cooperation.” 

This disposition spells danger for freedom of expression in Nigeria and we expect that Mr. Alake, an experienced media practitioner himself, understands the risks. The Nigeria Senate has a terrible record of initiating poorly thought-out, control-seeking social media regulations.

In 2015, the Senate introduced a bill called the Frivolous Petition Bill which sought to repress online speech. The bill was withdrawn from the Senate due to heavy criticism from citizens, civil society, and various stakeholders. In 2019, the Senate came up with an even more insidious attempt to regulate social media through the Protection From Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill, proposing to grant the Police the power to determine what constitutes malicious and false information and to order network shutdowns. This attempt was also resisted by citizens and was withdrawn at the public hearing after it had passed second reading in the Senate. 

Nigerians have made it clear that online and offline freedom of expression stands at the cornerstone of  democracy in alignment with Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution,  the African Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other subsidiary legislations passed to protect fundamental human rights.

Freedom of expression is important for inclusive participation in governance and society. It allows citizens to seek and circulate information, ideas, comments and opinions and hold those in authority to account. This right extends to the press which provides the platform for multiple voices to be heard and as a signal of transparency.

As such, it is imperative that no blanket support for regulating social media should be made by any government official, ministerial nominee or otherwise. Rather, extensive consultations across multiple stakeholder groups to understand the peculiarities of the digital environment and the need to protect the civic space to ensure that all international standards for fulfilling human rights obligations are adhered to by the Nigerian government. This will coalesce on-going efforts and a multistakeholder approach to internet governance. 

We reiterate that a requisite for preserving the spirit of our democracy at this time in history is inclusive law making and respect for human rights of all.  It is on this basis that the underlisted organisations under the NetRights Coalition strongly condemn any attempts at social media regulation that are not a product of broad consultation involving the full participation of civil society organisations, human rights organisations, and other relevant stakeholders. 

About the NetRights Coalition

The NetRights Coalition (NRC) is a pan-African Coalition of Internet Freedom Practitioners and activists sharing knowledge and experiences to combat digital rights threats as well as pushing back against digital rights violations.


  • African Academic Network on Internet Policy (AANOIP)
  • Africa Media and Information Technology Initiative (AfriMITI)
  • AfroLeadership – Cameroon
  • Bloggers of Zambia (BloggersZM)
  • Consortium of Ethiopian Human Rights Organizations (CEHRO)
  • Digital Rights Lawyers Initiative (DRLI)
  • DigiCivic Initiative
  • Human Rights Journalists Network Nigeria
  • Junub Youth Action Network(JYAN)
  • Kigali Attorneys Legal Consultants & Partners 
  • KICTANet
  • Knowledge House (KHA)
  • Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
  • Paradigm Initiative
  • Tech Project Women Initiative (TechHerNG)
  • Zimbabwe Centre for Media and Information Literacy
  • Civil Society Advocacy Network on Climate Change and the Environment Sierra Leone (CAN-SL)

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