LEDAP condemns the twitter suspension by the Federal Government because it violates the Fundamental Human Rights to freedom of expression and the press entrenched in section 39 of the 1999 Constitution.
On Friday 4th June, 2021, the government issued a directive that twitter should be suspended because according to the Minister of Information Alhaji Lai Mohammed, ‘it is being used for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence’.
In a bid to implement the suspension, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami ordered federal prosecutors to arrest and prosecute anyone caught contravening the order. He urged the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to collaborate with the prosecutors to ensure speedy prosecution of offenders without delay and also ordered the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to stop all broadcasting stations from using the platform to disseminate information.
This undermines the freedom of the press which is one of the hallmarks of a democratic government.
The suspension and directive to arrest offenders is a mockery of our legislative process because section 36(12) of the Constitution provides that no person shall be prosecuted for a criminal offence unless it is defined and prescribed by a written law (An Act of the National Assembly) and to date, there is no written law that justifies the Government’s actions.
In any event, the government ought to have considered the effect of this suspension on the country’s economy which has suffered immensely over the last few days as a report by Premium Times newspaper shows that the country loses over 2.1 billion naira for every 24 hours the platform is shutdown.
It is therefore on this note that we call on the Federal government of Nigeria to reverse the suspension immediately because it is a blatant disregard of the rights of its citizens and a virtual disabuse of its powers as a democratically elected government.
Chino Obiagwu SAN