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FG has no right to regulate freedom of expression, Reps caucus insists

By Msugh Ityokura, Abuja
15 January 2022   |   4:09 am
The minority caucus in the House of Representatives has said that the Federal Government has no right to regulate freedom of expression, especially in a democracy.

Ndudi Elumelu

Demands Apology From APC Presidency
The minority caucus in the House of Representatives has said that the Federal Government has no right to regulate freedom of expression, especially in a democracy.

It described the lifting of the ban on Twitter by the Federal Government as a demonstration of its appetite to suppress constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights of citizens.

The decision by government to ban the social media platform, according to the caucus, was unconstitutional in the first place, as it violated the right to freedom of expression and opinion.

Leader of the caucus, Ndudi Elumelu, stated in Abuja, yesterday, that the lawmakers held that freedom of speech and opinion by Nigerians, including expressing such through social media tools like Twitter, is clearly guaranteed in the 1999 Constitution and cannot be subjected to partisan approval or regulation under a democratic rule.

“That is why at the wake of the ban on the use of Twitter in Nigeria in June 2021, the Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives forcefully condemned the decision as provocative, obnoxious and unjustifiable clampdown on the rights of Nigerians, which also showed the All Progressives Congress (APC) government’s intolerance and aversion to the views and aspirations of Nigerian citizens, especially the youths, on matters of state.

“It was also in that light that the caucus stood by the law and charged Nigerians to continue using Twitter, irrespective of the unconstitutional ban, since they would not be contravening any known law in Nigeria or international statutes,” the statement read in part.

According to the opposition group, the declaration of a lift on the ban on Twitter amounts to regulatory approval on freedom of speech, which is completely unknown to the laws of the land.

“The APC government should rather be apologising to Nigerians for infringing on their rights, as well as for the huge economic losses recorded as a result of the ban,” it stated.

Instead of seeking to suppress free speech in the country, the caucus insisted that the APC government should be open to the views of Nigerians and make adjustments for the good of the nation.

While commending Nigerians for their resilience, innovation and resistance to suppression by the APC government, the lawmakers assured that they would never relent in the fight for the rights of the people at all times.