The Federal Minister of State for Labour and Employment of Nigeria, Festus Keyamo, has lamented that some Nigerians have been taking undue advantage of the #TwitterBan in the country to blackmail the Federal Government.
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Tuesday, the minister said the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government has never used any social media platform to promote content that was capable of “setting the country ablaze”.
He said this in response to questions that the party used the same social media to rise to power back in 2015, stressing that the goal of the government with the #TwitterBan is not to stifle free speech.
“As a political party APC, can you tell us examples when we tried to use social media platforms to set the country ablaze?,” Keyamo asked, adding “we should not be blackmailed into a corner and behave as if we are acting against our own principles.
“We are not talking about stifling free speech. People have been using this as a blackmail weapon that we rode to power using social media. That is blackmail because we need to set specific examples where we use social media to undermine the territorial integrity and peace and unity of Nigeria,”
“Nobody is saying that people should not use social media platforms, nobody is saying that we should not call government officials to question. Nobody is saying that you should not even abuse us but is it right for you to go to social media and promote false stories that are capable of turning one part of the country against another?” he added.
The Federal Government has since come under fire for its decision to ban the social media platform in the country both from citizens and the international community.
Beyond the ban, the Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, had also announced that anyone found still using the app would be prosecuted.
But on Tuesday, the ECOWAS Court of Justice joined the call to condemn the decisions.
The court restrained the Federal Government from imposing sanctions or harassing, intimidating, arresting, or prosecuting Twitter.
It also restricted the government from carrying out such actions against any other social media service provider, as well as media houses, pending the hearing and determination of a suit challenging the government’s suspension of Twitter operations in the country.
However, reacting to this, Mr Keyamo said “I have not seen anywhere where they said the ECOWAS court is the moral thermometer or barometer to decide whether Nigeria’s image is bad or not”.