Centre for Transparency Advocacy, CTA has has condemn the action of the Buhari led Federal Government over its ban on twitter, describing it as an onslaught on the freedom of speech and rascality carried too far. In a statement by CTA Chairman, Committee, Dr Chima Amadi said that with the ban, the Federal Government has made true its threat through its Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. Amadi said, “within 24 hours of complaining about the removal of its provocative and genocidal tweet by Twitter, the Nigerian government made true its threat through its Minister of Information to sanction the microblogging and social media site by announcing an indefinite suspension of the site’s operations in Nigeria.
“Following a wholesale condemnation of that action, the government, rather than see wisdom in retrospection and circumspection, has doubled down its stance by threatening to prosecute any of her citizens found to continue tweeting by by-passing the restrictions through the deployment of advanced internet privacy technology. This onslaught on free speech is the latest in the Buhari administration’s constriction of the civil space and wanton disregard and trampling of constitutionally guaranteed rights of citizens. To be clear, there is no provision in the nation’s constitution that gives the administration such powers to stifle free speech and to prosecute citizens for exercising same. The last time this was experienced was in 1983 with the ill fated decree 2 enacted by the military junta headed by the same Buhari.
“This draconian administrative style has become the stock in trade of the civil garbed Buhari especially since his re-election to a second term of office. This clampdown on free speech is coming within 48 hours of the revelation that the administration is allegedly fine tuning plans to suspend sections of the Constitution in a power grab aimed at further shrinking the already shrivelled civil space. It is interesting to note that the administration would rather worry about the action of a private company on its warped messaging than checking the slide into anarchy that the insecurity in the land is portending. This action is not only an irresponsible display of official rascality but stands condemned. The administration ought to know that development can only be engendered when citizens enjoy their constitutional freedoms without fear of sanctions. I am therefore calling on the administration to immediately halt this slide into ignominy and to quickly apologise for this clearly not well thought out line of action. We cannot continue to be the butt of jokes among the comity of nations.”
Meanwhile, The diplomatic missions of Canada, the European Union (Delegation to Nigeria), the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America convey our disappointment over the Government of Nigeria’s announcement suspending #Twitter and proposing registration requirements for other social media. We strongly support the fundamental human right of free expression and access to information as a pillar of democracy in Nigeria as around the world and these rights apply online as well as offline. Banning systems of expression is not the answer. These measures inhibit access to information and commerce at precisely the moment when Nigeria needs to foster inclusive dialogue and expression of opinions, as well as share vital information in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic. The path to a more secure Nigeria lies in more, not less, communication to accompany the concerted efforts of Nigeria’s citizens in fulsome dialogue toward unity, peace and prosperity. As Nigeria’s partners, we stand ready to assist in achieving these goals.