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Buhari meets NCC Chairman, as Paradigm Initiative petitions commission over domain names blockade

Buhari meets NCC Chairman, as Paradigm Initiative petitions commission over domain names blockade
President Buhari and Senator Durojaiye at the State House, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday met with the chairman of the board of commissioners of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Sen. Olabiyi Durojaiye.

TheNewsGuru reports the meeting took place at the State House in Abuja where NCC Chairman briefed President Buhari on activities of the commission.

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Meanwhile, Paradigm Initiative has filed a petition against the commission requesting it to release information on alleged blocking of some online news sites.

TheNewsGuru reports the digital rights advocacy organization filed the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act request at the Abuja headquarters of the commission.

It gave the commission seven days as stipulated by the FOI Act 2011 to release information on the alleged attempts to block domain names of online newspapers.

TheNewsGuru recalls Nigerian Tribune reported on Sunday, October 5, 2017 “that the government, through the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), has engaged the services of a firm in Lagos to block the domain names of “several identified websites threatening national security”.

The newspaper further alleged the commission wrote a memo to the firm, directing it “to immediately take steps to restrict access within the Nigerian cyberspace in respect of 21 (twenty-one) additional websites by blocking the domain names.

According to the Program Manager of Paradigm Initiative, Adeboye Adegoke, “the phrase “additional websites” in the memo indicates that there are other websites already marked for illegal censorship through an equally illegal blockage of their domain names. If this is true, then this would be a clear indication of this government’s anti-free speech agenda”

“It has been six days since Tribune published its story and NCC has not come out to deny the story. This is why we have filed this FoI request. NCC cannot wish this report away; the commission has to come out and address Nigerians on the issue,” he further stated.

In the FoI request, Paradigm Initiative asks NCC to provide it with answers to the following questions: Is the NCC or any of its agents in the process of taking steps or block or restrict the domain names of certain websites? If yes, what websites would be affected? What criteria were employed in selecting these websites? Under what legal provision is this being carried out?

“It goes without saying that blocking the domain names of newspapers is a brazen violation of the right to Freedom of Expression as guaranteed not only by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria but also by international instruments to which Nigeria is a signatory,” said Tope Ogundipe, the Director of Programs at Paradigm Initiative.

 

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