Reactions Trail FG Move To Tackle Cyber Crimes, Abuse Of technology
By Gina Emmanuel
Reactions have started to trail Federal Government’s decisive action plan on cyber-crimes and the abuse of technology through hate speech and other divisive material that is being propagated on social media.
This plan was disclosed by President Muhammadu Buhari during his presentation of the 2018 National Budget to a Joint Session of the National Assembly in Abuja earlier today (November 7,2017).
President Buhari said, “Whilst we uphold the constitutional rights of our people to freedom of expression and association, where the purported exercise of these rights infringes on the liberties of other citizens or threatens to undermine our National Security, we will take firm and decisive action.
“I reiterate my call for Nigerians to exercise restraint, tolerance and mutual respect in airing any grievances and frustrations. Whilst the ongoing national discourse on various political issues is healthy and welcome, we must not forget the lessons of our past. I trust that the vast majority of our people would rather tread the path of peace and prosperity, as we continue to uphold and cherish our Unity in Diversity”.
However, stakeholders in the telecommunications industry have kicked against this move by the government, saying is a way to kill the online residents.
Chairman Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (Alton), Mr Gbenga Adebayo,government should not tamper with the freedom of onlinenatives not by budget allocation and not by legislation. Let people have their freedom to do what is considered right online but severe sanctions should be prescribed for inciting activities online.
Paradigm Initiative also expressed serious concern over alleged Federal Government’s secret attempts to block the domain names of several identified websites accused of threatening national security in Nigeria. These attempts are an unacceptable violation of constitutionally and globally guaranteed rights of expression and information.
“According to a report the Federal Government is alleged to be currently carrying out this operation through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), ostensibly hiding behind Section 146 of the NCC Act 2003. The section, which provides generally on the duties of a network licensee to assist the Commission in preserving national security and preventing the commission of a crime, must not be used by the Federal Government to intimidate online news providers and infringe on their rights”.
Paradigm Initiative’s Program Manager Magoyi (ICT Policy), Adeboye Adegoke, explained that “Section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria expressly provides that every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides similarly that everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”
Also commenting, President Association of Telecommunication Companies of Nigeria (Atcon), said, ” When we have a fully connected ICT governance would improve productivity of the country.
“Cybercrime is not peculiar to Nigeria but a global phenomenon, we should be able to address it properly in a democratic setting. It is only right that people express themselves and there should be a balance between monitoring, social media platform and sanction because we are running democracy.”