Harassing Laptop-Bearing Youths Gone With Startups Act — FG

By NewsBits

The Federal Government has assured Nigerians that the signing into law of the Startups Act and other legal frame­work by the Muhammadu Buhari ad­ministration would go a long way in protecting youths in the innovative sector against harassment and other abuses by security personnel.

Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami, made the assertion while briefing State House correspondents on the Nigeria Startups Act 2022, which President Buhari accented to at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday. Pantami also disclosed that the new Act will be establishing the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Council, which would be chaired by the president.

He explained that the new law was borne out of government’s desire to provide the required enabling environment for Nigerian young startups and innovators, to address the various challenges facing the sector, in­cluding those of intellectual property, financing, regulation, and incentive.

The minister, who dis­closed that President Buhari, through the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, and the Office of the Chief of Staff, broached the bill from the onset, added that government has earmarked a N10 billion startup funding for startups and innovators to draw from.

Speaking on how the new law would end the era of young people with laptops being ha­rassed by law enforcement agents, Pantami said rather than the minister lobbying to stop the Act, the president, who is the chairman of the Council only needs to give a directive and it will be obeyed by those who misrepresent them for internet fraudsters.

NewsBits recalls that many young Nigerians have complained about being ha­rassed by security personnel for bearing laptop computers, and erroneously branded internet fraudsters, a situation which, among other factors, triggered the bloody uprising tagged, ‘EndSARS protest’ against alleged police harassment in 2020.

“The main institution to address the issue is the National Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship Council to be chaired by Mr. President. Number one mandate of the Council is to listen to the challenges of our young in­novators and direct relevant institutions there and then to address the challenge. So, with that Council, I believe the issue will be resolved,” the Minister said.

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