MRA Sues NITDA over Failure to Provide Details of Proposed Regulation of Online Platforms

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Ms Rosemary Onu, Member, MRA’s Network of lawyers

Lagos, Tuesday, 2 August 2022: Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja against the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) over its failure to provide details requested by the organization on its proposed regulatory framework for social media and other online platforms through a “Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/Internet Intermediaries”.

In the suit, MRA is asking the Court to order NITDA to provide it with all the information it requested in its letter dated June 15, 2022, including a copy of the letter containing the directive given by President Muhammadu Buhari to NITDA to develop a code of practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms as well as copies of documents containing inputs made by stakeholders such as the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Tik Tok, Instagram, Google and other interactive computer service platforms, civil society organizations and expert groups in the development of the draft code of practice.

The suit was filed on behalf of MRA by Abuja-based lawyer, Ms Rosemary Onu, leading Ms Obioma Okonkwo and Mr. Monday Arunsi, and is also seeking an order directing the Attorney-General of the Federation to initiate criminal proceedings against NITDA for the offence of wrongful denial of access to information under Section 7 (5) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

In a motion exparte brought pursuant to Order 34 Rules 1, 3(1) and (2) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure Rules) 2009 and Sections 1(3) and 20 of the FOI Act, MRA is asking the Court to grant it leave to seek various reliefs from the court, including a declaration that the failure and/or refusal by NITDA to grant it access or make available to it the information it requested in its letter dated June 15, 2022 constitutes a violation of the organization’s rights of access to information established and guaranteed by Section 1(1), 4 (a & b), of the FOI Act.

The organization also wants the court’s permission for it to seek an order directing NITDA to disclose or make available to it the following:

• A copy of the letter or other document containing the directive given by President Buhari to NITDA to develop a code of practice for interactive computer service platforms and Internet intermediaries;

• A list of all the interactive computer service platforms, civil society organizations and expert groups that collaborated with NITDA in the development of the code of practice issued and presented for public input on June 13, 2022 or thereabout.

• The dates and venues of the meetings held by NITDA with interactive computer service platforms, civil society organizations, expert groups and other stakeholders to discuss the development of the code of practice as well as a list of participants at each of the meetings;

• Copies of the minutes of each meeting held with interactive computer service platforms, civil society organizations, expert groups and other stakeholders to discuss the development of the code of practice; and

• Copies of all documents including letters, memoranda or other submissions containing inputs made by stakeholders such as the NCC, the NBC, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Tik Tok, Instagram, Google and other interactive computer service platforms, civil society organizations and expert groups in the development of the draft code of practice;

MRA is also seeking an order directing NITDA to pay to the organization the sum of N1 million only as exemplary and aggravated damages “for the flagrant and unlawful violation” of the organization’s right of access to information established and guaranteed by Section 1(1) & 4 of the FOI Act.

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

For further information, please contact:

Idowu Adewale
Communications Officer
idowu@mediarightsagenda.org