The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Amnesty International and constitutional lawyer, Mike Ozekhome have slammed the government of President Muhammadu Buhari for banning Twitter in Nigeria, saying it is unconstitutional and illegal.
The NBA made its position known in a statement on Friday night by its President, Olumide Akpata.
He described the government’s decision to ban Twitter as illegal and threatened to challenge it in court.
Twitter had on Tuesday deleted a post by President Muhammadu Buhari, which was alleged to be offensive. In the said tweet, the President of Nigeria had threatened the Igbos, in the Eastern part of the country, with another civil war. Three million Igbos, mainly children and women, had perished in the civil war that lasted from 1967-1970.
Many outraged Nigerians reported the tweet to Twitter and it was eventually deleted as offensive.
The Buhari government promptly responded with a ban. The 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”.
But the NBA sees the ban as illegal and unconstitutional.
Mr. Akpata said in the statement, “The Nigerian Bar Association 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 NBA 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 NBA will have no choice but to challenge same in the interest of the public and for the sake of our democracy.”
Also Amnesty International (AI) and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Ozekhome have condemned the ban on Twitter.
They advised the government to immediately reverse itself on the ground that the suspension contravened Nigerians constitutional right to freely express their views via Twitter.
Ozekhome slammed the Buhari government in a statement ‘When a toterring government twiddles Twitter’
He said: ”What does Nigerian government think Twitter loses by being suspended? It is just the Nigerian people that will suffer, in the same way the government has been punishing Nigerians in the last six years. “Twitter will not even bother whether Nigerians use Twitter or not. We are 210 million people in Nigeria. Of this number, only about 33 million Nigerians are active on social media. Less than 15 million of these are on Twitter. On the other hand, there are well over 300 million people across the world that use twitter. So Twitter will not feel it. It is just like a drop of water in an oasis. Twitter will not even know that a country has suspended it.
“So, it is the same beleaguered Nigerian people that will suffer, not the Federal Government or Twitter, because the Federal Government is a minute minuscule aspect of the Nigerian society, made up of only a few selected elite that do not care about the common man.
“This is the same Government that undeservedly rode to power using the same twitter and other social media platforms it now detests….I am very ashamed.”