We condemn FG’s ban on Twitter
Sir: We as members of the Guild of Public Affairs Analysts of Nigeria (GPAAN) wish to express our serious concern over the recent ban placed on the use of Twitter in the country by President Muhammadu Buhari, as announced by the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. The president’s action is ill-advised, embarrassing and unconstitutional.
It is worthy of note that the ban runs against the grains of Chapter 4, Section 39(1) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) which states that: “every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.”
Secondly, it is a clear violation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, as concluded at Nairobi on 27 June 1981” to which Nigeria is a signatory.
It would be recalled that the government announced on Friday that it was suspending Twitter’s operations in the country, in a swift reaction to Twitter’s deletion of the president’s tweet. The said tweet violated its standards with regards to reference to Nigeria’s civil war which ended some four decades ago. Some analysts view it as a veiled threat towards the IPOB-led secessionist movement in the South-Eastern of the country.
Perhaps, the government needs to be reminded that it does not run an economy in autarky-that of self-sufficiency and limited trade. Little wonder that within 24 hours of the ban the already bleeding economy lost N2 billion and by Monday it had shrunk by N4.4 billion!
It is worrisome too that to exacerbate an already tense socio-economic scenario, Justice Minister Abubakar Malami had “directed for the immediate prosecution of offenders of the Federal Government ban on Twitter operations in Nigeria,” telling the public prosecutor to “swing into action.” The grave implications are clearly avoidable.
Apart from our concerns about the illegality of the directive and which is antithetical to democratic norms, GPAAN would want the presidency to resist the temptation to personalise political power. Rather, it should channel its energy and the resources at its disposal to fighting the monster of insecurity that has virtually crippled the nation’s economy.
Ayo Oyoze Baje is president of GPAAN.
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