“If Buhari has a problem with Twitter, he is advised to sort it out between them personally, the way Donald Trump did, not rope in the right to free expression of the Nigerian citizen as collateral damage”
Alarmed by President Muhammadu Buhari’s suspending of Twitter indefinitely in Nigeria, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) have taken a swipe at the president for what they called an illegality.
While Soyinka said he lacked surprise at this petulant gesture, unbecoming of a democratically elected president, the lawyers body described it as illegal.
The Federal Government had on Friday suspended Twitter indefinitely in Nigeria.
In a statement by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the government hinged the suspension on what it called the “persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”
He said the Federal Government has also directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria, according to a statement by Mr Segun Adeyemi, the Minister’s media aide.
Twitter had come into the cross-hairs of the Buhari government after its police deleted two tweets and a video, in which President Buhari threatened to invoke civil war treatment to arsonists, separatists and insurrectionists destroying public assets.
Persecondnews recalls that Buhari had tweeted: “Many of those misbehaving today are too young to be aware of the destruction and loss of lives that occurred during the Nigerian Civil War.
“Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”
But Soyinka reacting to the ban, said he had just heard the news of Buhari’s ban on Twitter an hour or so after sending off TO SHOCK AND AWE to the print media.
“lf Buhari has a problem with Twitter, he is advised to sort it out between them personally, the way Donald Trump did, not rope in the right to free expression of the Nigerian citizen as collateral damage.
“In any case, this is a technical problem Nigerians should be able to work their way around. The field of free expression remains wide open, free of any dictatorial spasms!” Soyinka said.
On its part, the NBA has threatened to challenge in court, the decision of the Federal Government to suspend the operations of microblogging site Twitter in the country.
NBA President Olumide Akpata, in a statement on Friday night, described the government’s decision as illegal.
“The Nigerian Bar Association Assoc has noted with great concern the extraordinary decision of the Federal Government of Nigeria to suspend the operations of Twitter in Nigeria and, by necessary implication, the right of Nigerians to freely express their constitutionally guaranteed opinions through that medium.
“The Federal Government also directed the Nigerian Communications Commission to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria, which is, at best, yet another disguised attempt to regulate social media, restrict freedom of speech and shrink civic space.
“Whether one likes it or not, we are operating a constitutional democracy, the primary consequence of which is that everything must be done according to law; and government must be conducted within the framework of recognised rules and principles which restrict discretionary power.
“The Nigerian Bar Association finds no constitutional or legal authority to support the peremptory action of the Federal Government to suspend the operations of Twitter in Nigeria and deprive Nigerians of their right to freely express their constitutionally guaranteed opinions.
“Beyond the dent on our constitutional democracy, at a time when the Nigerian economy is unarguably struggling, the impact of arbitrary decisions such as this on investor confidence is better imagined.
“Consequently, if this decision is not immediately reversed, the Nigerian Bar Association will have no choice but to challenge same in the interest of the public and our democracy,” the NBA said.