A Pan-African social enterprise working to advance digital rights and inclusion in Africa, Paradigm Initiative, has called on the federal government not to restrain the operation of any social media platform or internet provider ahead of the 2023 general election to ensure that due process of the 2023 election is observed.
PIN observed that elections are fundamental features of democracy, a process that allow citizens to choose their leaders and hold them accountable for their actions.
Recall the federal government had suspended Twitter operations on June 4, 2021, after the social media giant deleted a post by President Buhari for “violation of the company’s abusive behaviour policy.” Leadership reports.
Addressing journalists during the sideline of Digital Rights and Elections in Africa Meeting, DREAM– Nigeria in Abuja yesterday, the Senior Manager, Strategy at PIN, Adeboye Adegoke said that if the government shut down the internet, it would halt people access to alternative news, except government want to tamper with election process.
He said such moves would cut people off from getting information adding that it would have negative impact on the credibility of the election.
“So one of the ways to ensure credibility of election is to ensure that platform of communication will remain open so that people can have trust in whatever information that is coming from.
“It’s a very simple thing. I’m in my polling units. I see what is happening there. I should be able to verify the results if it matches what was declared. If it’s different from what I saw, I knew that something was have happened,” he said.
The programme officer, Sani Suleiman, who was also at the event stressed the significance of preserving digital rights during elections in the current digital landscape saying it cannot be over-emphasized.
Analysing the significance of information, Suleiman submitted that the fundamental digital rights of citizens, including access to information, freedom of expression, privacy, and data protection, are safeguarded before, during, and after election periods.
“To address these challenges, Paradigm Initiative launched RIPOTI in 2021 as a platform for reporting and monitoring digital rights violations in Africa. RIPOTI offers a secure and confidential space for individuals to report violations, ensuring their voices are heard, and their rights are protected,” he said.
He explained that PIN would also introduce AYETA, an online toolkit for digital security that is designed to help provide users with a suite of tools and resources they need to protect their online privacy and security.
“This is particularly important in the run-up to the Nigerian election, where access to information and the ability to communicate freely online is essential for a transparent election process.
“The primary goal of the AYETA toolkit is to address the growing need to safeguard digital rights defenders, journalists, whistle-blowers, and others working with sensitive information in the country and Africa at large,” he added