MEMORANDUM SUBMITTED TO THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY, HUMAN RIGHTS AND LEGAL MATTERS ON THE BILL FOR AN ACT ON ‘THE PROTECTION FROM INTERNET FALSEHOOD AND MANIPULATIONS; AND FOR OTHER RELATED MATTERS, 2019

Preamble
This memorandum is submitted by Yiaga Africa at the Public Hearing of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters on ‘The Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations; and for other related Matters Bill, 2019 (SB. 132)’.
Yiaga Africa is a non-profit and non-political civil society organization promoting democracy, human rights, and social justice through advocacy, research and capacity building. Our goal is to build democratic societies anchored on the principles of inclusion, justice, transparency, and accountability. Yiaga Africa operates as a citizens’ movement dedicated to enhancing the quality of democratic governance, public accountability, and civic participation. Yiaga Africa focuses on in-depth research, providing critical analysis on key democratic and governance issues, crafting practical solutions, training and empowering citizens to lead change in their community. We invest in building networks and social movements to drive social change and transformation. Yiaga Africa has leadership structures and members in all 36 states and 774 Local Government Areas (LGA) of Nigeria. Yiaga Africa is registered in Nigeria as an independent nonprofit organization.

The views expressed in this memorandum reflects the position of the organization. This memorandum provides a brief analysis of the ‘The Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations; and for other related Matters Bill, 2019 (SB. 132)’, highlights issues with the bill and proffers recommendations for action. The Bill is in 5 parts, Part 1 contains the Aims, Objectives and application of the Act; Part 2 prohibits transmission of false declaration of facts; Part 3 addresses regulations dealing with transmission of false declaration of fact; Part 4 regulates internet intermediaries and providers of mass media services while Part 5 is for declaration of online locations.

‘The Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations; and for other related Matters Bill, 2019 (SB. 132)’ is similar to the “Bill for an Act to Prohibit Frivolous Petitions and other matters Connected Therewith, 2015 (SB.143), sponsored under the 8th National Assembly dropped by the 8th Senate following huge public outcry against the bill in 2016. The (re)introduction of the Bill has raised considerable fears and concerns that the essence of the Bill is to gag citizens and undermine constitutionally guaranteed rights.

Yiaga Africa Position on the proposed bill
1. Violation of Fundamental Human Rights in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended)
Yiaga Africa’s position on the bill is that it violates the fundamental human rights of Nigerian Citizens. The right to freedom of expression is a constitutional and fundamental right; inviolable under the 1999 constitution. Section 17 (1) of the Constitution expressly states that: “The State Social order is founded on ideals of freedom, equality and justice,” while in section 37, it protects “The privacy of citizens, their homes, correspondence, telephone conversations and telegraphic communications is hereby guaranteed and protected.”

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