Sep 22, 2018

Why Nigeria Needs The Electronics Transactions Bill | Legalnaija

The Electronics Transactions Bill upon assent by President Buhari, will be an Act to facilitate the use of information in electronic form for conducting transactions in Nigeria. Furthermore, the Bill seeks to provide a legal and regulatory framework for:  (a) conducting transactions using electronic or related media; (b) the protection of the rights of consumers and other parties in electronic transactions and services;  (c) the protection of personal data; and  (d) facilitating electronic commerce in Nigeria.

Though the National Assembly passed the Bill in 2017, it is yet to be signed into law by Nigeria’s President Buhari due to what has been described as drafting issues, despite calls by industry experts such as the Chattered Institute Of Bankers (CIBN) and the Cyber Security Expert Association of Nigeria (CSEAN).

The e-Commerce market in Nigeria is worth around $13 billion; according to a report by London based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Experts in the Nigerian financial service sector have also estimated that Nigeria’s e-commerce market value could rise to $50 billion (N15.45trillion) over the next 10 years. Recently, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) predicted that the e-commerce sector is expected to contribute about 10 per cent, of a projected N10trillion, to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2018[i]. However, as e-commerce opportunities expand in Nigeria, so does the risk to unsuspecting users and customers. Hence the need for the immediate signing of the Electronics Transactions Bill by President Buhari.

Some of the notable provisions of the Bill include Section 2, which provides that the Act shall apply to the use of all information in the form of electronic or other media. Subsection (2), also lists certain exceptions that come under the purview and jurisdiction of the Act, which include  -  

(a) the creation or execution of a will;

(b) the execution of negotiable instruments;

(c) the creation, performance or enforcement of an indenture, declaration of trust or power of attorney with the exception of constructive and resulting trusts;

 (d) any contract for the sale or other disposition of immovable property, or any interest in such property; 

(e) the conveyance of immovable property or the transfer of any interest in immovable property; 

(f) documents of title for movable or immovable property; and

(g) where such application would involve a construction of a rule of law that is clearly inconsistent with the manifest intent of the lawmaking body or repugnant to the context of the same rule of law:  Provided that the mere requirement that information be in writing, written or “printed” shall not by itself be sufficient to establish such intent. 

The Bill also provides that notwithstanding anything in the Stamp Duty Act, in relation to this Act, documents whose media are not paper, shall be liable to stamp duties as may be prescribed by the appropriate regulatory body and it shall be lawful to transmit and send documents as defined in the Act.   

Other important provisions of the Bill includes clauses, which provide for application and scope of electronic records, as well as the validity, administration and certification of electronics signatures. Particularly, Section 11 of the Act provides that –

“Where the signature of a person is required, that requirement is met in relation to an electronic communication if:

 (a) any method is used to identify the person and to indicate the person’s approval of the information communicated; 

(b) having regard to all the relevant circumstances at the time the method was used, the method was as reliable as was appropriate for the purposes for which the information was communicated; and 

(c) the person to whom the signature is required to be given consents to that requirement being met by way of the use of the method mentioned in paragraph (a)”. 

A novel introduction of the Bill is also its provision for the validity of electronic contracts as seen in Part IV of the Bill. As well the provisions of Part VI which provide for consumer protection. 
According to the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, there is need to validate e-commerce transactions as fraudulent activities online, commercial disputes arising from sale and delivery; and other undesirable outcomes are on the rise. In the 44-page report, the Senate President stressed that an estimated 60 per cent of micro and small businesses advertise and sell their wares online, either through their own sites or using social media. “This has also opened up a floodgate of fraudulent activity online, commercial disputes arising from sale and delivery; and other undesirable outcomes.

Also, he said, large businesses have also taken advantage of the ease offered by technology to conduct and transact their official businesses online. “Contracts and agreements are being concluded without parties being physically present. But conversely, extant laws provide inadequate protection for e-commerce businesses and consumers,” he declared[ii].

From the above, it is crucial that President Buhari signs the Electronics Transactions Bill into Law as it will bring sanity and protection to Nigerians and investors who carry on business through electronic transactions.

You may download a copy of the Bill here.  

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Photo Credit - Abbakin

[i] Abbakin. (2018). The Nigeria Online Ecommerce Market Size and Trends. Available: Last accessed 22nd September, 2018.

[ii] ITRealms. (2018 ). Why NASS passed Electronic Transactions Bill - Saraki - ITREALMS. Available: Last accessed 22nd September, 2018.