Since the emergence of e-commerce in the nineties, security has become a significant barrier to its growth. Businesses and individuals involved in e-commerce must be able to place their trust and confidence in the identity of the other party, as well as in the integrity of any electronic messages received, to ensure that they have not been altered. Identification and authentication via an electronic signature provide both parties with assurances concerning the identity and the integrity of the message. From a legal perspective, the role of legislation in this context is to offer the necessary guarantees of a secure and trustworthy online transaction. This can be achieved through the recognition of electronic signatures and regulating the certification of service providers. This paper will consider the different forms of electronic signatures which exist, and the present legislation in Nigeria which deals with their recognition. It will also examine the legal effects and the adequacy of the present legal framework. Finally, it will conclude by discussing how the legislature in Nigeria can improve the present framework to meet the current international legal and technological standards which would enhance the validity and enforceability of electronic contracts that have been executed using electronic signatures by parties within Nigeria.
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