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PDP Reps threaten legal action against FG over ban of Twitter

By Seye Olumide, Eniola Daniel (Lagos), Adamu Abuh and Cornelius Essen (Abuja)
07 June 2021   |   4:14 am
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives has threatened legal action against the Federal Government over the decision to suspend the usage of Twitter in the country.

(Photo by Alastair Pike / AFP)

Groups flay attack on freedom of speech, Ajulo faults Malami over directive
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Representatives has threatened legal action against the Federal Government over the decision to suspend the usage of Twitter in the country.

The Kingsley Chinda-led caucus argued that the measure was a violation of the extant provisions of the law.

It argued that the subsequent directive to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to license social media operators in the country was an attempt to introduce the Social Media Bill through executive fiat.

Describing the measure as a violation of the doctrine of separation of powers, the lawmakers enjoined the Federal Government to reverse the decision in the overall interest of the country.

“As expected, the announcement has sent shockwaves amongst believers in democracy and rule of law across Nigeria and the entire world.

“We note with great concern that the suspension of Twitter by the Federal Government is one more step in attempts to restrict the fundamental rights of Nigerians, as enshrined in Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

“Nigerians will recall that on August 4, 2020, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, issued an Amended National Broadcasting Code for the country, which imposes restrictions on fundamental freedoms,” they said.

BESIDES, the Concerned Nigerians Group said it would sue telecommunication companies in Nigeria for carrying out the President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive banning Twitter in the country.

President Buhari had in a tweet shared on Tuesday, cited Nigeria’s civil war experience between 1967 and 1970 for the ban, noting that
most of those burning offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), were too young to understand the gravity of war.

He also threatened to deal with the arsonists, saying: “Those of us who were in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”

In a statement issued by its convener, Deji Adeyanju, it stated: “We will sue the telecommunication companies for disconnecting Twitter without a valid court order immediately the courts resume, because this is a clear breach of SC 37 CFRN.”

ALSO, the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) expressed concern over Federal Government’s restriction on Twitter, describing the development as inappropriate, unjustifiable and an assault on the rights of Nigerians to free speech and association.

Its President, Fegalo Nsuke in a statement issued in Abuja, said the Twitter ban was not only improper, but also derogatory and diminishing to the government having been taken in response to an internal decision of Twitter, an independent, private business network.

MEANWHILE, former National Secretary of Labour Party (LP), Kayode Ajulo, has faulted Attorney General of Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), over his directive to prosecute violators of the ban on Twitter.

In a statement he issued yesterday, condemned Malami’s directives on the ground that the 1999 Constitution did not recognize the offence for which the directive was meant to prosecute offenders.

“Without prejudice to the rationale for the ban of the blogging site, it must be noted that the Nigerian democracy is a constitutional democracy based on the rule of law. Where the rule of law reigns, political expediency ought to be sacrificed on the altar of the rule of law, so as to guarantee the continued existence of democratic institutions to promote liberty, orderly conduct and development,” the statement reads.