By Abba Dukawa,Kano
The Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) has expressed worry over what it termed as illegal arrest, detention and harassment of citizens without following due process negating the principles of democracy being practiced in Nigeria as absolute abuse of the human rights of the citizens as enshrined in the 1999 constitution as amended.
The Executive Director of the centre, Yunusa Zakari Ya’u said, Nigeria’s government needed to assent to the Digital rights Bill in the Country which will pave ways for digital development and guaranteed citizens’ rights and protection on the internet.
Ya’u, briefing Journalists through the Program Officer, Digital Rights, Ali Sabo called on the government and other stakeholders to bring to an end the continued harassment and detention of the citizens online in the country.
“The Digital Rights Bill if being passed will ensure approval of the human rights which apply offline within the digital environment and online and it will also ensure due process with the regard to arrest of anybody deem to have committed any offence.
“The increase of arrest of citizens by the Nigerian security agencies on the order of some state governors. To highlight some of the examples, on the 11th of December, 2022, a minor named Umar Garba was arrested in Nguru Local Government Area, Yobe State over an alleged defamation of character of the Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni. The boy was held captive by the Nigeria Police for more than two weeks without a court order or any arrest warrant. Similarly, the boy was not taken to court up to the time of his release.
“It would be recalled that another youth, a 500 level student of the Federal University, Dutse, Aminu Adamu was also arrested last month over the alleged defamation of the character of the wife of the president, Mrs. Aisha Buhari.
“A similar case had also happened in Kano State where two Tiktokers were arrested, detained and beaten for alleged defamation of character of the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. If these arrests are allowed to continue the country is going to be turned into an authoritarian one where citizens will not have the rights to express themselves online.”
He pointed that, these arbitrary arrests of the citizens are against the Nigerian constitution and international covenant of human and people’s rights.
While drawing the attention of security agencies to avoid the unlawful detention of the citizens and ensure every arrest made it with an order of a competent court, the centre therefore called on the president should ensure the speedy assent of the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill as soon as it is transmitted to him as this will bring an end to the arbitrary arrest of the citizens by the Nigerian Security Agencies