996 views | Stanley Ugagbe | June 5, 2021
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has condemned the “illegal and unconstitutional suspension of Twitter’s Operations in Nigeria,” and called on “the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately rescind the suspension within 48 hours or face legal action.”
The Federal Government on Friday, announced that it has suspended, indefinitely, the operations of microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, in Nigeria. This was announced by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, according to a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Segun Adeyemi.
But SERAP in a statement by its deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare said: “The suspension of Twitter in Nigeria is a blatant violation of Nigerians’ rights to freedom of expression and access to information. The suspension has the character of collective punishment and is contrary to Nigeria’s international obligations. President Buhari must immediately rescind this unconstitutional suspension. We will see in court if the suspension is not rescinded within 48 hours.”
The statement, read in part: “Suspending Twitter in Nigeria would deny Nigerians’ access to information, and disrupt the free exchange of ideas and the ability of individuals to connect with one another and associate peacefully on matters of shared concern. It would also seriously undermine the ability of Nigerians to promote transparency and accountability in the country, and to participate in their own government.”
“We call on the Nigerian authorities to guarantee the constitutionally and internationally recognized human rights of Nigerians including online. Deletion of President Buhari’s tweets should never be used as a pretext to suppress the civic space and undermine Nigerians’ fundamental human rights.”
Similarly, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) “vehemently rejects the unwarranted suspension of the social media platform, Twitter, by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government, describing it as a draconian action and a slide towards a fascist regime in our country”.
The party asserted that the suspension of twitter,” is a vexatious, condemnable and barbaric move to muzzle Nigerians, particularly the youths, ostensibly to prevent them from holding the overtly corrupt, vindictive and divisive Buhari administration accountable for its atrocities, including human right violations, patronizing of terrorists and outright suppressive acts against innocent Nigerians.
“Our party is appalled that the Federal Government could exhibit such primitive intolerance and power intoxication because the social media giant demonstrated international best practices in not allowing the Buhari presidency to use Twitter as a platform to propagate and spread the Buhari administration’s hatred towards Nigerians.
“The PDP insists that rather than being a platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence, as claimed by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Nigerians, particularly the youths, have been using the social media platform, largely, for activities that promote unity, as well as social, economic and commercial interaction in our country.
“Our party notes that Mr. Lai Mohammed, in his statement, failed to cite an example of where Nigerians used Twitter as a platform to promote acts that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence as he claimed.
“Of course, the failure to give any such instance, confirms that the Federal Government is only out to victimize Nigerians.
“The Buhari Presidency and the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration are only afraid of Nigerians on Twitter because of their evil machinations for which they dread the Nigerian youths.”
“Moreover, freedom of speech is firmly guaranteed in our constitution and the Buhari administration should be ready to face Nigerians over its misrule.
“In the case of any infringement, our nation has adequate extant laws to deal with such and not this move to gag the people.
“The PDP therefore charges President Buhari to end this assault against Nigerians by immediately and unconditionally rescinding its decision to ban Twitter, as such amounts to pushing our citizens to the wall.
“Afterall, it was the same Twitter that provided President Buhari and the APC the platform to campaign in 2015 and 2019.
“It is also on record that President Buhari would not be the first President in the world whose tweet would be deleted.
“When it happened to former US President Donald Trump, he was not known to have deployed any act coercion against Twitter.
“Our party invites President Buhari to halt this international shame by rescinding this ugly decision”.