Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA)

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The Saga. Who Wins? - By Toba Obaniyi

A few days ago, the Federal Government of Nigeria announced the relaunch of a new national carrier for Nigeria, The Nigeria Air. With the announcement came the unveiling of a logo for the brand that was supposedly designed by a Bahrain company for some millions of Naira. As expected, this launch has generated some discussions online. I actually found an interesting tweet that made me look closer at the logo. It is actually not just a ribbon, but an eagle spreading its wings.

What interests me most however in this saga, is that some "sharp" guy went ahead to register and and put them up for sale! Some are saying that he is indeed smart and will make the government cough up some millions before releasing the domains since they were not smart enough to register the domain before announcing. Others have suggested that he will probably be arrested since it is a crime to register the domains. To respond, I will like to educate first.

No one really owns a domain.

Generally, when you need a domain name, you would go to a registrar/reseller that sells the domain extension and place a request for the domain after confirming that it is available. Then you pay a fee for say a year or more and then the domain is registered in your name. You are tempted to believe that you own the domain for that period, but that is not really true. I think it is more appropriate to say that you have rented the domain for that period. You also only keep that domain as long as you do not flaunt the regulations of the domain registry.

To put it simply, the domain registry is responsible for managing all domains within the zone. So, if you register for instance, you are bound by the rules of the registrar/reseller you bought the domain from and the registry that manages all dotCOM domains, Verisign. If you register, you are bound by the rules of the registrar/reseller you bought the domain from and the registry that manages all dotNG domains, the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA). If the registry believes that you have flaunted any of their rules, they can actually pull down the domain or in some cases, take the domain from you.

Why cannot be sold.

So, before you can sell a domain, you need to be sure you are not breaking any rules. There have been cases where people have sold domains for quite a lot of money. It is possible to sell domains. In this case however, I doubt a sale will be possible for the following reasons.

The domain is not really registered...yet.

NiRA has some exceptions that prevent the registering domain names and one of such restrictions is what has been termed "geonames". In summary, a geoname represents a domain name that can be confused to mean that the domain is owned or managed by a government entity. For instance, if I register, it will be argued that this domain is owned and managed by the Lagos State Government, and as such will not be registered. The same applies to Even without the announcement, this domain is considered a geoname as it implies that the domain is owned and managed by the Federal Government of Nigeria. As such, it will not be registered.

But it has already been registered, you say. Not quite. If you perform a WHOIS search of (a WHOIS search allows us to see the details of the domain registration), you will see the status of the domain is "ServerHold".

This means that the domain has not been approved by NiRA because it violates the rule described above. A domain in ServerHold cannot actually be used because it has not been fully registered. In other words, the guy doesn't even "own" the domain he is trying to sell...yet. And I doubt he ever will.

Even if the domain was fully registered, it could be taken away from the "owner"

So, let us argue that the domain is later approved for some reason. Or let's say you don't believe me and you insist the domain has been registered. Like I explained above about domain ownership, even if a domain has been registered, it can still be taken away. And one valid reason to take a domain away if someone else has trademark for that name in Nigeria. According to Article 8.4(4) of the registrant agreement of NiRA, a domain registrant (a person who registers a domain name) represents, warrants and covenants to NIRA that

No Infringement. Neither the registration of any Domain Name nor the manner in which the Registrant intends to use or uses such Domain Name will directly or indirectly infringe or otherwise violate the trade-mark or other intellectual property or other rights of any Person or defame any Person or unlawfully discriminate against any Person or breach any Applicable Laws.

So, if the Federal Government has a trademark for NigeriaAir, which I believe is a small matter, the domain can simply be taken away. Game over.

So, Who Wins?

Definitely not the guy. At best, he will get a refund because the domain could not be approved. At worst, the domain is taken away from him and he loses his registration fee. He has just successfully informed the Federal Government that they should register the domains and they probably would.

The lesson of the day is you can't win them all.


Toba Obaniyi is the MD of Whogohost, a NIRA Accredited Registrar

The Full article is at:


On Wednesday 25th July 2018, I lead NiRA representatives to the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) on an Annual Statutory visit. This visit is in line with the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by NITDA with NiRA for the management of the .ng. The Team was received by Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, the Director General of the NITDA, and the Management Team.  

The objectives of the visit included the presentation of NiRA’s 2017 Annual Report to NITDA and to give an update on NiRA’s stewardship and activities in relation to the management of the .ng ccTLD.

The meeting gave us an opportunity to reinforce the good synergy between NITDA and NiRA which has greatly contributed to the adoption of domains by the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA’s) which has positively impacted the growth of .ng domain registrations in recent years.

We also used the opportunity of the visit to explore areas for NITDA and NiRA to further collaborate in capacity building on DNS Entrepreneurship in all geo-political zones in Nigeria. The NiRA Academy is positioned to provide the relevant resources and support in this regard.

As a fallout, we now look forward to a courtesy visit by the DG NITDA to NiRA and its stakeholders in Lagos on a later date. The NIRA secretariat will update all stakeholders with the details of the date of the visit, once confirmed.

The 2017 Annual Report of NIRA is available at

NIRA Continues to push for the adoption of .ng amongst all its stakeholders and the nation in general. It is heart-warming to see many well-known-brands who are now switching to .ng in their names, letterheads and signages. It is not yet time to relent, let us all make it a point of duty to take the message to all Nigerians.

I remain at your service.


Rev’d Sunday Folayan

President, NIRA Executive Board

ICANN63 in Barcelona

ICANN returns to Europe, to the wonderful city of Barcelona for the ICANN63 Annual General Meeting, which holds from 20th to 25th October 2018. This year's meeting is important, as the first two days will coincide with the High-Level Government Meeting (HLGM) hosted by the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC).

The HLGM is held every two years in addition to the usual GAC meetings. Barcelona will host the fourth HLGM. HLGMs reinforce the critical role that governments play in providing advice to the ICANN Board on public policy relating to the secure and stable functioning of the Domain Name System. They also give participants the opportunity to discuss at a very senior level the current public policy issues and challenges at ICANN.


NiRA at Nigeria Computer Society (NCS)

The 2018 National Conference of the Nigeria Computer Society held from the 17th   to the 19th of July 2018 at The International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. The Theme for this year’s event is  
Digital Inclusion: Opportunities, Challenges and Strategies

The conference addressed the practical realities and needs, best practices, emerging issues, innovation, stakeholder roles and future sustainability. The NCS realizes that Digital inclusion is particularly important as the urgent need to diversify the economy away from dependence on oil and improve economic performance becomes more important.

As usual, the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA) was at 2018 NCS conference with three of its Accredited Registrars (Garanntor Hosting Limited, Upperlink Limited and Integrated Software Services Limited (ISSL) to educate and enlighten on the need to embrace and sustain out online identity and growth of local content.

Senator Abiola Ajimobi, the Executive Governor of Oyo State,  during his visit to NiRA Stand at the NCS Conference.


NiRA successfully held the third edition of the Annual .ng recognition and Awards ceremony on Friday, 6th July 2018 at the Celebration Garden and Event Centre, 28B Isaac John Street, GRA, Ikeja. Lagos.

The .ng Awards seeks to promote and commend the excellent achievements of  NiRA members, Stakeholders and the General Public, who tirelessly contribute towards building a Sustainable Economy using Technology, uplift the image of .ng locally and internationally and stimulating the development and consumption of local content on the Internet space.

In his Presidential speech, Rev’d Sunday Folayan, NiRA President, noted that NiRA does not attach monetary value to the awards. Since the inception of the .ng awards, no sponsorship or donations is required to participate in the .ng Award; Nominations and voting is at the discretion of the General Public.

He appreciated the nominees who have proudly projected their businesses using the .ng brand.

At the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA), we believe in the power of the internet and are determined that the .ng domain name space, has a positive impact on the lives of internet users. We acknowledge the great work being done out there and desire the populace to know about it, talk about it, engage with it and put it into the spotlight.

Dignitaries at the event include Mr. Muhammed Rudman, the VP of NiRA and CEO of Internet, Hon. Adamu Alhaji Lawan, Commissioner for Works and Transport, Borno State,  Mr. Tunde Coker, the Chief Executive Officer, Rack Centre,  and other notable leaders of Associations and Organizations within the Nigerian ICT ecosystem.

The winners of the 2018 .ng awards in the various categories can be viewed from the link below.