NGO Files Suit to Compel Clerk of National Assembly to Present Digital Rights and Freedom Bill to President for Assent

Media Rights Agenda
By Media Rights Agenda September 26, 2018 12:42 Updated
President Muhammadu Buhari

Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

A non-governmental organization (NGO), Laws and Rights Awareness Initiative, has filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja seeking leave of the Court to apply for an order of mandamus to compel the Clerk of the National Assembly to certify a copy of the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill and present it to President Muhammadu Buhari for his assent.

Consumer rights lawyer, Mr. Olumide Babalola filed the suit on behalf of Laws and Rights Awareness Initiative and Mr. Daniel J. Daniel, who is described as “a Nigerian citizen with huge interest in digital rights in Nigeria” against the Clerk of the National Assembly and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly.

They are complaining that although the National Assembly passed the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill into Law in March 2018, the Clerk and the Speaker have refused to present the Bill to the President for his assent.

In their motion ex parte, Laws and Rights Awareness Initiative and Mr. Daniel are seeking an order granting them leave to apply for judicial review of the refusal and/or omission of the Clerk and the Speaker to accede to their request contained in their letter dated September 10, 2018 asking the Speaker and the Clerk to perform their administrative duty under sections 2 and 3 of the Acts Authentication Act.

In their substantive suit, they are seeking:

  • A Declaration that by virtue of Section 2(1) of the Acts Authentication Act, after the enactment of the Digital Rights and Freedom Bill in March 2018, the Clerk ought to have prepared and certified a copy of the Bill as provided by the section.
  • A Declaration that by virtue of Section 2(2) of the Acts Authentication Act, upon the enactment of the Bill, the Speaker ought to have directed the Clerk to prepare the Schedule of the Bill for onward presentation to the President for his assent.
  • A Declaration that by virtue of section 3 of the Acts Authentication Act, after the enactment of the Bill in March 2018, the Clerk ought to have signed the schedule and presented it to the President for his assent.
  • An Order of Mandamus compelling the Speaker to immediately direct the Clerk to prepare the Schedule of the Bill for onward presentation to the President for his assent.
  • An Order of Mandamus compelling the Speaker to immediately prepare, certify a copy of the Bill and Present it to the President for his assent.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

The Digital Rights and Freedom Bill which was passed by the House of Representatives in December 2017, and by the Senate in March 2018, but has since remained with the National Assembly.  Despite advocacy efforts by civil society organizations and other stakeholders aimed at ensuring that the President assents to the Bill, the Clerk is yet to transmit it to the President for his assent.

Media Rights Agenda
By Media Rights Agenda September 26, 2018 12:42 Updated
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