Journalism of Courage

Twitter suspension: FG can’t stop us from tweeting, CSOs, stakeholders say

The leaders, who disclosed this in a joint statement, also added that the move by the government to prosecute Twitter users is “a violation of human rights and an utter abuse of power.”

Unperturbed by the Federal Goverment’s suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria, leaders of 27 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and stakeholders have vowed to continue tweeting.

According to the various CSOs who work on governance, corruption, elections, digital rights and inclusion, women’s rights and journalism in Nigeria, the ban on Twitter operations in the country is a continued assault on the civic space and anti-democratic clampdown on free speech.

The leaders, who disclosed this in a joint statement, also added that the move by the government to prosecute Twitter users is “a violation of human rights and an utter abuse of power.”

Persecondnews had reported that the Buhari government had on June 4, 2021, announced the “indefinite suspension” of Twitter in the country.

To further champ down on human rights, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN) also ordered the immediate prosecution of Nigerians still using the micro-blogging platform, despite its “presidential ban”.

The CSOs said in a statement: “We are also aware of the statement credited to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, threatening to arrest anyone who continues to tweet after the announced suspension.

“We, therefore, wish to categorically say that we, as individuals, and our organisations, do not know any law that the act of sharing information breaks, and will continue to use Twitter, other social media platforms, and other media channels, to share information and engage with citizens.

“We note that Section 36(12) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) makes it impossible to convict any person for a criminal offence if that offence is not defined and its penalty not prescribed in a written law. On the power of Section 36(12) which protects a fundamental human right.

“We, therefore, note and state unequivocally that the Attorney General’s statement threatening to prosecute citizens using Twitter contravenes the Constitution and is a violation of human rights and an utter abuse of power.

“We stand with Nigerians who continue to exercise their fundamental human rights, especially as we will be celebrating Democracy Day on Saturday, June 12.”

The signatories to the statement include: Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative (PIN), ‘Gbenga Sesan; Executive Director, EiE Nigeria, ‘Yemi Adamolekun; Adebayo Raphael of Centre for Liberty; Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani; Cheta Nwanze; Chioma Agwuegbo, TechHerNG; Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution.

Others are Concerned Nigerians; Director of Programs, Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu; Deaf Women Aloud Initiative (DWAI); Executive Director, Dorothy Njemanze Foundation (DNF), Dorothy Njemanze and Executive Director, Media Rights Agenda, Edetean Ojo.

They also include Hamzat Lawal of Connected Development [CODE] / Follow The Money; Founder, Dataphyte, Joshua Olufemi; Executive Director, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Idayat Hassan; Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Kolawole Oluwadare; Lex Initiative for Rights Advocacy and Development (LIRAD); Mojirayo Ogunlana-Nkanga of Centre for Impact Advocacy (CiA).

Nana Nwachukwu; Nelson Olanipekun of Citizen Gavel; Executive Director, Education as a Vaccine, Olabukunola Williams; Oluwatosin Alagbe of Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism; Raising New Voices Initiative; Director, BudgIT, Seun Onigbinde; Tunde Aremu; Executive Director, Youth Alive Foundation (YAF), Udy Akpan; Executive Director, Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), Y.Z Y’au also made the list.

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