Enock Reuben, Abuja


DAILY COURIER – As part of it efforts in promoting human rights in Nigeria, Avocats Sans Frontieres (ASF) in collaboration with European Union in Nigeria has officially unveiled e- RIGHTS Project in Abuja, Nigeria.

The e-RIGHTS Project is targeted at promoting the rights of all Nigerians in the digital world, creating opportunities and addressing challenges provided by new technologies. This will directly attend to the needed human rights in Nigeria for Journalists, youths, bloggers, social media influencers and other citizens.

The project will significantly promote a safe online platform for human rights defenders in Nigeria, to monitor and report issues of digital rights violation.

Nigerian government through it various digital communication agencies at the launch also gave their support for Avocats Sans Frontieres France (ASF), also known as Lawyers Without Borders France, for e- RIGHTS project in Nigeria.

The Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) and National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) have showed their willingness to work with Avocats Sans Frontieres (ASF) France on the protection of Nigerians’ digital rights.

The Chief Executive Officer of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, and Director-General of NITDA, Mallam Kashifu Abdullahi, gave the assurance during the launch of e-Rights Project by ASF France in Abuja.

While the he Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB) and the National Human Rights Commission threw their weights behind the project.

Speaking on the new project, Prof. Danbatta, who was represented by the Head of New Media and Information Security, Mr Chidi Dingwu, said the e-RIGHTS Project was the latest intervention in promoting the fulfilment of human rights in Nigeria. He said:“To transform Nigeria into a leading digital economy providing quality life and digital economies for all, it is imperative that we strengthen the people’s confidence in the use of digital technologies, and involvement in the digital economy as stipulated in the soft infrastructure pillar of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS 2020-2030),”

“The event is an acknowledgement of the drive of ASF France to promote the rights of individuals to information, freedom of expression, privacy and data protection as they engage online”

Danbatta added: “As the country continues to boost confidence and trust in its digital economy through fruitful deliberation and conversations, all hands must be on deck to safeguard the people’s rights to information, freedom of expression, privacy and data protection, in the context of digital technologies, especially the internet.

Also speaking about the e-RIGHTS project, Director General, NTDA, represented by the Head of Legal Unit, Mr. Emmanuel Edet said that as at the last statistics about 84 million Nigerians had access to internet which shows that the number of internet users in the country had rapidly grown, and the need for the protection of their digital rights cannot be over-stated.

The DG said there was the need for every stakeholder to collaborate to ensure that digital space was safe.

Abdullahi, who said that the agency was working with NCC and others to develop child rights protection in the digital space, said he aligned totally with e-Rights Project and to ensure that this was adequately and properly used in Nigeria.

Also at the occasion the Executive Secretary of NHRC, Mr Anthony Ojukwu, said he was always willing to identify with any programm targeting at protecting and promoting the human rights.

“So there is the need to address the and annex the potentials of digital space,” Ojukwu said.

He also said that there was need for legislation that would help protect the digital space in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria Data Protection Bureau (NDPB), Dr. Vincent Olatunji, said with the huge population of internet users, effort must be made to safeguard the people’s rights.

Olatunji, who was represented at the event, said as nations across the globe march to the ever increasing measures of technological advancement in the 4th industrial revolution, their is a need to safeguard the rights of citizens.

Also, the Deputy Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation in Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr. Alexandre Borges-Gomes, stressed that new technologies can greatly contribute to the protection and advancement of human rights, democracy and make public involvement serene and more practical.

Alexandre said: “In this context, the e RIGHTS Project is strategic because it aims at promoting people’s rights in the digital space in Nigeria; digital rights are all about freedom of expression and privacy and an extension of human rights for the internet age,”

The Country Director, ASF France in Nigeria, Angela Uzoma Iwuchukwu, also said the e-RIGHTS Project was the latest human rights initiative of the organisation funded by the EU. She said, it is aimed at enhancing digital rights in Nigeria.

She said the corporation “is going to addressing issues of violence against the vulnerable groups particularly children. We are going to be working together with human rights defenders and citizens to create a safe online platform for all citizens to engage”.