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Reps in rowdy session over Gbajabiamila’s order to probe into Twitter ban

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House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila. Photo: TWITTER/NGRSENATE

The Speaker of the House of Representatives has ordered the immediate probe of the decision by the authorities to ban the usage of Twitter in Nigeria.

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The decision by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila did not go down well with members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), who insisted on the immediate reversal of the ban pending the outcome of the investigation.

Speaking during the plenary session of the House, Gbajabiamila asked the Minister of Information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed to brief the House of Representatives on the objectives, intent, and duration of the suspension on the operations of Twitter in the country.

Mohammed is expected to appear before the House Committees on Communication, Justice, Information and Culture, and National Security and Intelligence chamber within ten days to clear the air on the matter.

The committees are to determine the circumstances of the decision by the Federal Government of Nigeria to suspend the operations of Twitter in Nigeria; and the legal authority for the ban on the operations of Twitter in Nigeria.

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The Speaker while acknowledging that Twitter, like other social media networks, is an important tool for communication and commerce in Nigeria, particularly amongst the younger generation who have used it for enterprise and innovation with great success, explained that the report of the committees will guide further action by the House of Representatives.

He enjoined the Committees to act with speed and sound judgment to address the issue that has animated our national conversations over the last few days.

“As such, the government has a legitimate interest in ensuring that these platforms are not used to commit vile actions against individuals and the State,” Gbajabiamila said.

“The proper role of the legislature in circumstances like this is first to peel back the layers of the decision-making process to unravel the issues until we develop an understanding of the why and the how of executive decisions.

“Following that, the legislature must make sure that regulatory and enforcement actions by the government are in accordance with the laws of the land, that due process of law has been followed to the latter and that the outcomes of regulatory decisions do not result in adverse consequences for the country and all our people.

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While raising a point of order, the minority leader Kingsley Chinda, applauded Gbajabiamila over his concern on the ban on the usage of Twitter in the country.

Chinda argued that the ban was in clear violation of the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution.

The lawmaker said it behoved the House to prevail on the authorities to lift the ban pending the outcome of the probe on the issue.

Chinda was, however, overruled by the Speaker who insisted that the House cannot revisit an issue already raised on the floor of the House in. accordance with order 9 rule 1,6 of the House standing rules.

Chinda, alongside other PDP members sympathetic to his cause, remained adamant as they staged a walkout after disrupting proceedings for about 10 minutes in spite of the intervention of the House leader.

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