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Social media regulation will kill free speech, HURIWA warns

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Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has warned the Federal Government to desist from any plot to undermine freedom of speech under the guise of attempting to regulate the social media.

In a statement yesterday, the Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, and Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, pointed out the series of campaigns against the social media by the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed.

The pro-democracy and non-governmental organisation claimed that the minister was “hiding under the nebulous pursuit of defending the so-called national security interests.”

According to the rights group, the two-time minister is clearly engaged in an undemocratic initiative to whittle down the unfettered enjoyment of the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental freedoms, chief among them the freedom to freely express opinions within the law. For the umpteenth time, HURIWA called for the immediate release of the publisher of Sahara Reporters and political activist, Omoyele Sowore, and his supporters currently in detention for attempting to ventilate their rightful indignation over how they were being governed.

“It is shameful that the government can lock up activists and journalists only for expressing dissenting views and the president still globetrots in the name of a civilian president of a constitutional democracy.”

This is a joke taken too far.“These Nigerians should be freed and allowed to freely express their opinions within the bounds of the law as provided for under the relevant provisions that protect free speech. Now the media practitioners and activists face deadly threats from the central government and their intolerant and primitive supporters,” the group stated.

HURIWA wondered why the minister was being allowed to waste public resources and time waging war against free speech and the social media when it was clear that the nation already had more than enough legal frameworks regulating the use of social media including the Cybercrimes Prevention Act, which was signed into law in 2015.

It noted that the plot to scuttle the freedom of expression would violate Section 22 of the constitution that clearly provided that: “The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability to the government and to the people.”


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Emmanuel OnwubikoHURIWA
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