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Thursday, August 18, 2022

Twitter Ban: No Constitutional Authority backs FG’s Peremptory Action – NBA

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The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has said that there is no constitutional nor legal authority that supports the ban of Twitter by the Federal Government.

NBA President, Olumide Akpata disclosed this in a statement on Friday night.

Akapata described the government’s decision as illegal and threatened to challenge in court, the decision of the government to suspend the operations of the microblogging site.

Twitter had deleted a post by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, and this prompted the government to announce a ban.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, announced the suspension earlier on Friday, citing the “persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”.

The minister’s statement was silent regarding the time that the ban would be enforced however, the pronouncement stirred various reactions locally and internationally, with the NBA arguing that the ban infringes on the right Nigerians to freely express their constitutionally guaranteed opinions through Twitter.

Below is the statement put out by the President of the NBA.

“The @NigBarAssoc has noted with great concern the extraordinary decision of the Federal Govt 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 FGN also directed the @NgComCommission 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; government must be conducted within the framework of recognised rules and principles which restrict discretionary power.

“The @NigBarAssoc finds no constitutional or legal authority to support the peremptory action of the Federal Government to suspend the operations of Twitter in Nigeria. 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 @NigBarAssoc will have no choice but to challenge same in the interest of the public and for the sake of our democracy.”

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