Buhari Asks NASRDA To Utilise Satellite Facilities For Security, Others

President Muhammadu Buhari at a meeting with members of the National Space Council of NASRDA and others in Abuja on June 24, 2021.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has tasked the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) to effectively utilise the satellite facilities at its disposal towards resolving the critical issues confronting Nigeria, particularly in the areas of security, improved communication, and digital penetration, as well as agriculture.

He gave the charge on Thursday at a meeting with members of the National Space Council of the agency at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The President expressed a renewed commitment to the space sector, describing it as the foundation of cybersecurity and a vibrant digital economy.

“No doubt Space is providing a new frontier for human development,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his media aide, Garba Shehu.

He added, “As a stimulus for increased technological advancement and economic innovation, outer space offers a unique challenge and platform for effective exploration and exploitation of our natural resources and the protection of our environment.

“Moreover, space technology remains the foundation for cybersecurity and a vibrant digital economy.”

To this end, President Buhari directed the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, to prepare and submit a revised 25-year roadmap for the implementation of the National Space Policy to the Federal Executive Council for consideration and approval.

He noted that there was a need to put in place the necessary infrastructure required for the actualisation of the goals and objectives of the nation’s space policy and programme.

The President urged the agency to engage in partnerships with other relevant stakeholders and the private sector to achieve its objectives.

He asked it to seek to explore useful collaboration with the private sector on how to best commercialise some of its output in furtherance of the government’s objectives.

“The present administration is committed to developing our society by engaging relevant human resources for the socio-economic improvement of our nation.

“We shall be steadfast in providing the required support towards the success of the space programme, as well as relevant resources needed for its growth and successful realisation of the mandates of the nation’s space agency.”

While commending NARSDA for the satellites already launched, the President charged its CEO, Dr Halilu Shaba, to do more.

“I am very proud of the strides we have achieved with the launch of NigeriaSat-1, NigeriaSat-2, Nigcomsat-1R, and NigeriaSat-X. Of tremendous interest to me is NigeriaSat-X which was designed and built to flight standards by our engineers and scientist.

“I expect you to drive your team towards the attainment of these goals which deepens your relevance in our national construct while inspiring millions of our youth to explore the opportunities in this field,” he told Shaba.

The NASRDA chief, on his part, updated the meeting on the status of the NigeriaSat-2 and the progress made on building and launching of a Synthetic Aperture Radar (Nigeria SAR-1), and on Optical Earth Observation Satellite (NigeriaSat-3).

He called for intensified funding of the agency’s activities in order to achieve the set objectives and gave a detailed briefing on NASRDA’s support to the military in the fight against terrorism.

Buhari To Embark On Medical Trip To London

A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari at a meeting with members of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and others in Abuja.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari will travel to London, the United Kingdom on Friday, the Presidency has said.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.

He explained that the President’s trip to London was for a scheduled medical follow-up, adding that he would be back in the country during the second week of July.

President Buhari’s scheduled trip to London comes almost three months since he last visited the United Kingdom for the same purpose.

He had travelled to the United Kingdom on March 30 for a routine medical check-up, as indicated in a statement by his media adviser.

The President later returned to the country via the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport on April 15, at the end of the trip which lasted more than two weeks.

Amid speculations that the Nigerian leader may be sick at the time and had to embark on an emergency trip, the presidency stated that there was nothing of such.

“It is a routine medical check-up; the President has undertaken this with a set of doctors that he has retained over many years,” said Garba Shehu, another media aide to the President, during an interview with Channels Television.

He also stated that there was no need for the Nigerian leader to transmit power to the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, since he would not be away for so long to contravene the law.

VIDEO: UNILAG Student Arrested Over Murder Of Super TV CEO, Claims He Forcefully Had Sex With Her

The police have arrested a university student accused of killing Usifo Ataga, the Chief Executive Officer of Super TV.

Ataga was said to have been found in a pool of his blood with multiple wounds on his body after the media mogul was stabbed to death at a hotel where he reportedly lodges in the Lekki area of Lagos.

Chidinma Ojukwu, a 300-level Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), was paraded on Thursday at the Lagos State Police Command headquarters in Ikeja.

The Commissioner of Police in the state, Hakeem Odumosu, told reporters at the briefing that the suspect had confessed that she stabbed Ataga.

He disclosed that the owner of the rented apartment where the tragic incident occurred has been arrested and held in police detention.

Odumosu added that Ataga’s bank account has been blocked in a bid to prevent further withdrawals by those taking advantage of his untimely death.

During a session with reporters, 21-year-old Chidinma gave an account of what transpired between her and the late businessman whom she accused of raping her.

She claimed that Ataga made a first attempt which was successful, noting that the unfortunate incident took place after she resisted a second attempt.

Chidinma was paraded at the Police Headquarters in Ikeja, Lagos State on June 24, 2021.

 

“We were in the lodge smoking. He was trying to make advances on me. I was tired and he became violent on it. I let him have his way.

“Towards afternoon, he ordered roofies. We took it together and ate food. He became high. I was still not happy with the first one (sex) that we had, so, I was staying on my own, smoking and drinking. He, too, was on his own. He came to me, and I told him I wasn’t happy with what he did,” the suspect recounted.

She added, “He was like, ‘Take my ATM and withdraw what you want’. He later became violent trying to get to me and I was resisting and defending myself. At some point, he hit my head on the wall and I also retaliated.”

According to Chidinma, Ataga began to chase her at some point in the kitchen where she took a knife and stabbed him in the neck.

She explained that the media mogul followed her as she approached the door before she stabbed him twice on the neck side again.

“I threw the knife to the bed, and he was going for it, but I also went for it. He dragged the knife with me and it broke, and he fell on the floor,” she narrated.

Why Nigeria Must Continue To Borrow Responsibly – Senate President

 

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has explained why it is important for the Nigerian government to continue to borrow responsibly to fund critical projects in the country.

He believes it is not feasible for the government to tax the people further in the face of the present economic situation and the nation’s infrastructure must be developed.

The Senate President made the remarks on Thursday while briefing State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

“You cannot, in my view and judgement, tax Nigerians further for you to raise the money for infrastructural development; other countries do that, but we have serious situation across the country.

So, you cannot put taxes on the people. The only option left is for use to borrow responsibly, utilise prudently and economically, and ensure that the projects are self-sustaining; that they can pay back the loans,” he said.

Senator Lawan added, “Our options are really very limited as a country. First, we do not have the necessary revenue; Nigeria is poor, we should not deceive ourselves. Nigeria is not rich given the circumstances we live in, given the challenges we have.

“Our resources are so low, our revenues are so low; therefore, the option of not doing anything just to sit (because we have no money, we should not go for infrastructure development) is not an option worthy of consideration. You cannot keep the economy stagnant.”

 

Investors Not Willing

He gave the assurance that the National Assembly would give legislative approval to the Executive loan request to fund the 2021 Appropriation Act before it embarked on a recess in July.

The lawmaker reiterated that the 2021 Supplementary Bill would also go through final consideration before the recess to fast-track the government’s procurement of COVID-19 vaccines and military hardware to tackle insecurity.

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, briefs reporters after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on June 24, 2021.

 

While stressing the need to borrow funds, he stated that the Legislature would not just support or approve loans for the executive.

The Senate President noted that this would be done only after investigating the implementation of such loans through oversight functions to ensure that they were directly deployed for intended projects.

According to him, Nigeria has no other choice than to borrow money and the option of private-public partnerships and Internally Generation Revenue (IGR) was not worthy of consideration.

Senator Lawan said, “What I want to assure Nigerians here is that we are not going to be frivolously supporting or approving loans for the Executive arm of government; whenever we have to approve any loan, we will insist on the details of the funding to look at the conditions that are attached to the loans and they must be favourable conditions before we approve.”

“The other option is probably private partnership – you need to create the environment to attract investors to come into your country. Because of the security challenges we face today, not many investors would like to come to Nigeria.

“In fact, even those inside Nigeria may not like to invest properly in the sector of infrastructure development,” he said.

Soon, Insecurity Will Be A Thing Of The Past – Osinbajo

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, at a meeting with the Oluyin of Iyin Ekiti, Oba Adeola Ajakaiye, and others in Abuja on June 23, 2021.

 

The Federal Government is making concerted efforts to beef up its response to the nation’s security challenges, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has said.

He listed the recent supplementary budget sent to the National Assembly on enhancing the capacity of the military and other security agencies as part of such moves.

Professor Osinbajo stated this when he received the Oluyin of Iyin Ekiti, Oba Adeola Ajakaiye, in company with the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, and Senator Opeyemi Bamidele at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

He stressed the need for traditional rulers, as well as local and state governments to collaborate with the Federal Government in tackling insecurity in the land.

“The President has recently constituted a committee that will look at the whole security infrastructure with a view to looking at the needs of the military, as well as the police and security agencies,” the Vice President told his guests on Wednesday.

He added, “The result of that is a bill before the National Assembly, a supplementary bill. The purpose of that bill is to present some of the needs of the military, as well as of security agencies in order to be able to beef up our response to the security challenges.

“We have to keep looking at how to support our (security) services to ensure that our country is safe. I can assure you that soon, the issue of insecurity will be a thing of the past and that we will all live in peace and prosperity in this country.”

Professor Osinbajo noted that the Federal Government was very concerned and would continue to ramp up efforts towards improving security nationwide, but community effort was also vital in tackling the issue from the roots.

He explained that it was important to take decisive action at the community level because most of the problems occur there.

“Any country with this number of security challenges must respond as robustly as possible.

“But it is also important to bear in mind that it takes a combined effort of all of us, at the local government level, state and federal levels; all of the levels; we need to come together to tackle this issue of insecurity,” the Vice President said.

He gave an assurance that the Federal Government would provide the necessary support to the community in tackling its challenges, adding that they were working with the Ekiti State government on dealing with insecurity, as well as various issues.

In his remarks, Oba Ajakaiye thanked the Vice President for granting them an audience and listening to their demands, including support for the establishment of a Federal University of Medical and Health Sciences in the community.

“Again, as a community, we have come to appreciate you for your diligence, hard work, commitment, and loyalty; and that, we from the South West, are very proud of you.

“We want to assure you that we are very much in support of you. From our own end, we are doing a lot to ensure that the menace of insecurity will not remain in our domain,” the monarch told his host.

Buhari Inaugurates Committee To Lift 100 Million Nigerians Out Of Poverty

President Muhammadu Buhari speaks at the inauguration of the National Steering Committee (NSC) of the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS) in Abuja on June 22, 2012.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated the National Steering Committee (NSC) of the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS) to be chaired by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

In his remarks at the event on Tuesday in Abuja, the President reiterated his commitment to lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years, with a well-researched framework for implementation and funding.

“This journey began in January 2021 when I directed the Chairman of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council and Secretary to the Government of the Federation to collaboratively work together to articulate what will lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.

“I am happy to note that the process of designing this inclusive poverty reduction strategy recognised and addressed past mistakes, as well as laid the foundation for a sustainable poverty reduction through the wide range consultations held at all levels of government, development partners, the private sector as well as the civil society,” he was quoted as saying by his media aide, Femi Adesina.

President Buhari was confident that the NPRGS would address the underlying causes of poverty on the basis of which it developed programmes that would deal with the multi-dimensional nature of poverty within the practical context of comparative advantage of human and natural resources in the various geo-political zones.

According to him, the major challenge before the committee is to translate the good intention of the government into a positive impact on the average Nigerian in order to create an appreciative impact on the poverty situation in the country.

“If India can lift 271 million people out of poverty between 2006 and 2016, Nigeria can surely lift 100 million out of poverty in 10 years. Fortunately, we have already started but we need to unlock the challenges of slow implementation, inappropriate targeting, and absence of adequate resources,” the President said.

The responsibilities of the committee, he noted, include anchoring collaborative efforts; provide oversight for the implementation of the strategy; provide guidance to Technical Working Group and federal ministries, extra ministerial departments and agencies, subnational governments and other stakeholders on meeting the objectives of the programme; as well as monitor progress and any other effort that would enhance the attainment of the objective of lifting 100 million people out of poverty in 10 years.

“The performance of our economy despite COVID-19 gives me comfort that we can achieve our goal, but we need to seriously scale up and work more with state and local governments.

“This call becomes more pertinent in the face of recent forecasts by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and our own Nigerian Economic Summit Group which all agreed that Nigeria needs to frontally tackle her poverty situation if our economic gains are to be sustained,” he told the gathering at the event.

President Buhari asked the committee to commence work immediately to enable the Technical Working Group to begin to put the nuts and bolts together.

He said the responsibilities were onerous but expressed confidence that the committee would be able to lay the foundation and demonstrate, within the next two years, the practicality of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in or under 10 years.

In his remarks, Vice President Osinbajo said the NPRGS would consolidate other efforts of the government to reduce poverty in the land.

He noted that the President’s position that local governments, states, and the federal government should work jointly to alleviate poverty in the country would be properly reflected in the framework and implementation, stressing the need for access and inclusivity.

The SGF, Boss Mustapha, who is a member of the committee said the poverty situation in the country assumed an enormous proportion with an increasing population, adding that the situation was compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He, however, said the administration responded to the COVID-19 poverty fallout swiftly and was able to ameliorate the situation and ensured a quick exit from recession.

The committee also has as members Chief of Staff to the President, Governors of Ekiti (South West), Delta (South South), Sokoto (North West), Borno (North East), Nasarawa (North Central), and Ebonyi States (South East).

Others are Ministers of Finance, Budget and National Planning; State for Budget and National Planning; Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development; Agriculture and Rural Development; Industry, Trade and Investments; Labour and Employment, Education and Health.

Ebonyi Commissioner Dies In Road Accident

A file photo of the late Commissioner for Infrastructure for Concession in Ebonyi State, Fidelis Nweze.

 

The Commissioner for Infrastructure for Concession in Ebonyi State, Fidelis Nweze, is dead.

Mr Francis Nwaze, the Special Assistant to Governor David Umahi on Media and Publicity, announced this in a statement.

He explained that late Nweze died in a ghastly motor accident that occurred on Tuesday, although he did not disclose the location where the crash took place.

Similarly, Nwaze did not ascertain if anyone was travelling with the late commissioner when the incident occurred, as well as whether there was any other person killed or injured as a result.

He stated that Governor Umahi has declared Wednesday as a public holiday in honour of the departed member of the State Executive Council, as well as Uche Okah, the Commissioner for Housing, in Ebonyi, who died weeks earlier.

“Consequently, the Governor has directed that all offices and markets should be closed while all flags are to fly at half-mast on Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021, across the state,” the Governor’s media aide said in the statement.

According to Nwaze, Governor Umahi also directed all government officials to proceed on fasting to seek the face of God in the affairs of the state.

He also urged the Ebonyi State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to organise prayers and fasting for three days.

The governor asked the Christian body to break the fast by 4pm at Christian Ecumenical Centre every day, from Wednesday to Saturday.

He appealed to all government officials in the state to participate in all the activities and prayed for the peaceful repose of the souls of the late former Exco members.

PHOTOS: Lawan Escorted To Prison After Getting Seven Years Sentence For Bribery

A photo taken on June 22, 2021, shows Mr Farouk Lawan at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in Abuja. Channels Television/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

It was an unexpected end for Mr Farouk Lawan on Tuesday when he appeared before Justice Angela Otaluka of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.

Lawan, a former chairman of the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on fuel subsidy, was accused of soliciting a $3 million bribe from Femi Otedola while probing the multi-billion naira fuel subsidy fraud in 2012.

The bribe was to remove Otedola’s then company Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited from the list of oil companies allegedly involved in the scam.

Although the former lawmaker had been walking freely while awaiting the court to determine his fate in the bribery charges filed against him, he is expected to spend the night in jail after he was found guilty of the counts.

In the first count, he was said to have corruptly asked Otedola for a bribe of $3 million as an inducement to remove the name of his company from the report of the House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee on Monitoring of fuel subsidy regime.

An official of the Nigerian Correctional Service escorts Mr Farouk Lawan out of the court after he was sentenced on June 22, 2021.

 

Count two also stated that Lawn collected the sum of $500,000 as a bribe to exonerate Zelon Petroleum and Gas from the fuel subsidy probe report.

 

The Long Journey To Justice

Following a long journey to justice for Lawan who has been standing trial since 2013, Justice Otaluka finally sentenced him to seven years in prison.

He was found guilty of counts one, two, and three which bothered on corruptly asking for bribe and obtaining same from Otedola.

The presiding judge stated that the evidence listed and submitted before the court by the prosecution counsel remained unshaken during cross-examination.

She added that the conduct, responses, and submissions of the defendant and witnesses established the charge in the first count, while the defendant demanded a balance after receiving the first and second tranche of the payment.

 

As of the early hours of April 24, 2012, when Lawan received the second tranche, according to Justice Otaluka, no complaint was made to any security agency or anti-corruption agencies as he claimed he took the money to show as evidence before the House.

She affirmed that the former lawmaker failed to convince the court that his acceptance of the said bribe was to serve as evidence before the House that Otedola intended to bribe the committee.

In her judgement, the judge sentenced Lawan to seven years in prison on counts one and two, while he got five years on count three.

She said the sentences were to run concurrently and ordered the former lawmaker to return $500,000 to the Federal Government.

After the judgement, Lawan was driven out of the court premises in a Toyota Hilux van owned by the Nigerian Correctional Service.

In this photo taken on June 22, 2021, Mr Farouk Lawan is driven out of the court by officials of the Nigerian Correctional Service.

Buhari Promises To Leave Behind A Police System That Works For Nigerians

A photo released by the police shows some officers of the Third Regular Cadet Course during their passing out parade at the Nigeria Police Academy in Kano State on June 22, 2021.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday pledged to bequeath ‘a citizens-led policing system’ to the nation, declaring that his administration has demonstrated firm commitment towards changing the principle and strategy of policing in Nigeria.

He made the promise while addressing the passing out parade of 418 officers of the 3rd Regular Cadet Course at the Nigeria Police Academy in Kano, where he explained his directive to the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission on the upward review of police emoluments.

President Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, said a citizens-led policing system informed the approval for the adoption of community policing as the internal security strategy of the country, as well as the approval of funds to support the implementation process.

On the revised salary and allowances for the Nigeria Police, he said it would be commensurate with the vital functions they perform as the lead agency in internal security assets.

The President noted that the police reform initiative, embarked upon by his administration, had focused on improving the welfare of the force, recruitment of 10,000 junior police officers annually, investing in the upgrade of facilities at the Nigeria Police Academy and other police training institutions in the country, among others.

“In addition, a Nigeria Police Academy (Establishment) Bill is currently receiving legislative attention at the National Assembly. On passage, the bill will give full legal backing to the existence and academic programmes of the Nigeria Police Academy and fully legitimise its status as a Police University,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by his media adviser, Femi Adesina.

President Buhari added, “Furthermore, as part of our police reform initiatives, the Police Public Complaint Committee, which is domiciled in the Ministry of Police Affairs, has been resuscitated with the mandate to receive complaints from the general public on cases of abuse and maltreatment by police officers. The PPCC has a membership made up of officials from relevant MDAs and security agencies.

”A Public Private Partnership arrangement undertaken by the Ministry of Police Affairs to rejuvenate the National Public Security Communication System Network has been approved by the Federal Executive Council; this is with a view to ensuring that when fully reactivated, the police and other security agencies will be able to fully utilise this vital facility.”

The President’s address at the occasion highlighted ‘well-thought-out reform programmes’ by his administration to modernise and reposition the Nigeria Police to meet the aspirations of the citizens, as well as to manage current and evolving threats in the most efficient and professional manner.

In this photo released by the police on June 22, 2021, some officers of the Third Regular Cadet Course march during their passing out parade at the Nigeria Police Academy in Kano State.

 

“In order to address the funding challenges of the Force, I also assented to the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Bill on 24th June 2019 and followed up with the inauguration of the Board of Trustees to ensure immediate take-off of the Fund.

“I am being constantly briefed by the Honourable Minister of Police Affairs on the activities of the Trust Fund and I am delighted to note that already, critical operational items including purpose-built operational vehicles and other policing assets are currently being delivered through the intervention of the Trust Fund,” he said.

According to President Buhari, with the sustained intervention of the trust fund, the operational efficiency and human capacity development goals of the police will be attained on a sustainable basis and by extension, the internal security order will be enhanced in due course.

In light of the several reforms, the President charged the young officers that the task of advancing major police responsibilities would fall on their shoulders in due course.

He also urged the newly commissioned 418 cadet officers, who are now Assistant Superintendents of Police, to be guided by the fact that their conduct on the field would be constantly scrutinised and they would be held personally accountable for their actions.

“You should remain good ambassadors of the Nigeria Police and demonstrate respect to civil society in discharging your duties, while also maintaining zero tolerance for corruption.

“To the Commandant and other staff of the Academy, I commend you for your dedication to duty which has ensured the proper indoctrination of these young officers, as well as occasioned today’s successful Passing Out Parade,” the President said.

In his remarks, the Commandant of the Academy, Lawal Jimeta, said the passing out ceremony was the third edition since the Academy was upgraded into a university, adding that no fewer than 1,000 well-trained officers have graduated from the institution.

He thanked the President for the unflinching support to the Academy, noting that 15 degree programmes have been successfully accredited by the National University Commission in two years.

Bandit Killed In Failed Attempt To Abduct Indian In Kaduna

A file photo of a gun seized from crime suspects in Nigeria.

 

Security Operatives in Kaduna State have killed a bandit in a failed attempt to abduct an Indian.

The bandit, along with his cohorts, had attempted to kidnap the foreigner working with a private company in Igabi Local Government Area of the state.

Mr Mohammed Jalige, the Police Public Relations Officer in Kaduna, confirmed this on Tuesday.

He explained that the bandits laid an ambush for the foreigner on Monday with an intention to kidnap him while he was driving to Plan Farm Phase at the Dankande area in Igabi.

Rather than getting caught up in the web, Jalige noted that some police officers ran into the ambush laid by the bandits.

He added that the armed men who were desperate to kidnap the foreigner open fire on the security operatives, but they were met with stiffer resistance from the policemen.

The command’s spokesman stated that the police operatives successfully repelled the bandits through their superior firepower and secured the foreigner unhurt.

According to him, the bandits fled into the forest with bullet wounds, and the lifeless body of one of them was recovered.

Jalige revealed that a joint team of the police and military personnel, while on a search of the area on Tuesday, also recovered four AK-47 rifles loaded with 120 rounds of live ammunition.

He said the remains of the bandit has been deposited at a morgue while forensic analysis of a phone also recovered was ongoing with the view to getting more details about the gang, their activities, and their location for a possible raid of their camps.

Twitter Gave IPOB Platform To Promote Violence, Lai Mohammed Tells Reps

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has accused social media giant Twitter of providing a platform for secessionist group Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to promote violence in the country.

He made the allegation on Tuesday in his presentation before members of the House Representatives Joint Committee on the suspension of Twitter at the National Assembly in Abuja.

“The decision of the Federal Government to ban the activities of Twitter for being a national security threat is well-founded in law in light of the fact that the platform affords IPOB, an organisation already proscribed by the Federal High Court, to champion its seditious and terrorist-based activities,” the minister said.

Twitter had deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 2, while the Nigerian government suspended the social media giant days later.

Amid the widespread criticism that trailed the action of the government, some prominent political and religious leaders insisted that they would not stop using Twitter despite the threat to sanction them.

Appearing before the lawmakers, Mohammed stated that the social media giant was suspended because it allowed activities on its platform which he claimed promoted destabilisation of Nigeria, especially by separatist groups.

He disclosed that the government has resolved that all social media platforms must register as Nigerian companies and pay taxes before they can be allowed to operate in the country.

The minister stressed that the move was not to stifle free speech or gag the media in any way, saying it was done in accordance with the law.

He also alleged that Twitter played an unsavoury role during the EndSARS protest as it used its platform to raise funds for the protesters.

According to Mohammed, Section 78 (1) of the CAMA Law 2020, states that a foreign company cannot operate in Nigeria unless it first registers and the government is empowered to defend Nigeria’s cyberspace, including social media.

Responding to questions on the impact of the suspension on businesses, he advised Nigerians to use other platforms for their online businesses.

The minister insisted that individual interest would not take precedence over national security, stressing that the ban was legal.

ECOWAS Court Restrains Nigerian Govt From Imposing Sanctions On Twitter, Others

Twitter is also having issues with the Nigerian government.

 

The ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja has 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 Nigeria.

The court gave the restraining order after hearing arguments from parties in a suit filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and 176 concerned Nigerians.

Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, represented the plaintiffs while a legal practitioner, Maimuna Shiru, represented the government.

According to the court, interference with Twitter is a violation of human rights and the Nigerian government must take immediate steps to implement the order.

It stressed the need to hear the matter as soon as possible and adjourned until July 6, 2021, for the hearing of the substantive suit.

In the suit, the applicants argued that the suspension of Twitter by the government and criminalisation of Nigerians and others using the social media platform has escalated repression of human rights and unlawfully restricted the rights of citizens and others to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom in the country.

This followed the suspension of Twitter by the Federal Government after the social media giant deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Thereafter, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) ordered television and radio stations to suspend the patronage of Twitter immediately.

The plaintiffs, in the suit marked ECW/CCJ/APP/23/21, sought an order of interim injunction restraining the Federal Government from implementing its suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, and subjecting anyone, including media houses and broadcast stations using Twitter in Nigeria to harassment, intimidation, arrest, and criminal prosecution, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

Part of the suit read,

If this application is not urgently granted, the Federal Government will continue to arbitrarily suspend Twitter and threaten to impose criminal and other sanctions on Nigerians, telecommunication companies, media houses, broadcast stations, and other people using Twitter in Nigeria, the perpetual order sought in this suit might be rendered nugatory.

The suspension of Twitter is aimed at intimidating and stopping Nigerians from using Twitter and other social media platforms to assess government policies, expose corruption, and criticize acts of official impunity by the agents of the Federal Government.

The free communication of information and ideas about public and political issues between citizens and elected representatives is essential. This implies a free press and other media able to comment on public issues without censor or restraints and to inform public opinion. The public also has a corresponding right to receive media output.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and the full enjoyment of this right is central to achieving individual freedom and to developing democracy. It is not only the cornerstone of democracy but indispensable to a thriving civil society.

The arbitrary action by the Federal Government and its agents has negatively impacted millions of Nigerians who carry on their daily businesses and operational activities on Twitter. The suspension has also impeded the freedom of expression of millions of Nigerians, who criticize and influence government policies through the microblogging app.

The suspension of Twitter is arbitrary and there is no law in Nigeria today permitting the prosecution of people simply for peacefully exercising their human rights through Twitter and other social media platforms.

The suspension and threat of prosecution by the Federal Government constitute a fundamental breach of the country’s international human rights obligations including under Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

The suspension has seriously undermined the ability of Nigerians and other people in the country to freely express themselves in a democracy and undermined the ability of journalists, media houses, broadcast stations, and other people to freely carry out their professional duties.