Group wants Nigeria's digital space regulated before 2023 election – Guardian Nigeria

(FILES) In this file photo illustration taken on April 26, 2022, a phone screen displays the Twitter logo on a Twitter page background, in Washington, DC. – Twitter released mixed first-quarter results on April 28, 2022, with revenues missing estimates but active users rising, three days after agreeing to be acquired by Elon Musk for $44 billion. The micro-blogging platform reported profits of $513.3 million, more than seven times the year-ago level following a one-time gain from a divestiture. Revenues rose 16 percent to $1.2 billion, a bit below the $1.22 billion expected by analysts. (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP)
Ahead of the 2023 general election, the Network of Advocates for Digital Reporting (NADIR) has cautioned relevant authorities against rising cases of incitements and ethnocentric behaviors on digital space in Nigeria.
The group warned that unless a decisive national policy is instituted to moderate the digital environment, the country may be heading towards needless civil unrest.
Addressing journalists Monday in Kano, NADIR coordinator Dahiru Mohammed Lawal, lamented that the ugly trend of secessionists tendencies religious bigots, blasphemy and other security threats trailing social media are recipes for political crisis.
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Lawal explained that with the digital space already contributing about 18% to the nation’s GDP, compelling big techs to abide by our laws and pay the requisite tax will amount to increased revenue which will contribute to the growth of Nigeria’s economy.
NADIR coordinator, however, declared the introduction of the draft Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Internet Intermediaries by the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) as a well-conceived policy to address the raging disorder on the digital platforms in Nigeria.
Lawal cited the recent move by global digital platforms including Meta, Google, Twitter and Microsoft who have agreed to take a tougher line against disinformation including deep fakes and fake accounts under an updated “European Union (EU) code of practice”, insisted Nigeria should not be left behind the global scene.
NADIR coordinator said, “Curiously, even the United States Government – the self righteous custodians of free speech – has announced that it was establishing an interagency task force to fight harassment and abuse online.
“The move by the White House came barely four days after the National Information Technology Development Agency, NITDA, released its ‘Code of Practice’ for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries and Conditions for Operating in Nigeria.
“Gracefully, NITDA has taken it upon itself to lead the charge and as far as the proposed draft code is concerned, we as citizens and stakeholders must not shy away from the fact that a vacuum of problem exist that must be solved using the instrumentalities of either soft laws or codes of ethics that reflects solutions to current challenges.
“An unregulated online space remains a recipe for civil unrest and the need for an instrumental that will ensure that our unity in diversity is not exploited for pecuniray gains, while guaranteeing freedom of speech and expression as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution is incumbent upon all citizens with the interest and love of our nation at heart.”
Lawal, however, reminded that while NITDA has clarified that the code of ethics is a draft, subject to inputs, NADIR wish to urge stakeholders to take advantage and intervene appropriately to have a mutually accepted code of regulations without recourse to the fear of tackling freedom of speech.

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