People Taking Advantage Of #TwitterBan As Blackmail Weapon – Keyamo

 

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.

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

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”.

70 Civil Groups Ask FG To Reverse Twitter Ban, Withdraw Prosecution Threat

The Nigerian government says Twitter’s operations threaten the country’s corporate existence.

 

Civil society organisations numbering 70 have called on the Federal Government to reverse the ban placed on Twitter and withdraw the threat to prosecute anyone using the app in the country.

The groups in a statement jointly signed on Monday condemned the action of the Federal Government describing it as ‘unlawful.’

“We, the undersigned civil society organizations are concerned about the repression and escalating crackdown on human rights by the Nigerian government, particularly the rights to freedom of expression, access to information and media freedom.

“We strongly condemn the arbitrary and unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria, by the authorities, and the resulting restrictions on the human rights of people, as well as the threat to prosecute anyone using Twitter in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: Bandits Kidnap Family Of Eight, Four Others In Zaria

“We, therefore, call on the Nigerian authorities to immediately rescind the unlawful suspension of Twitter in Nigeria and withdraw the threat to prosecute anyone using Twitter in the country,” the statement read in part.

The groups also condemn the “directive” issued by the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for all broadcast stations to deactivate their Twitter accounts.

They asked that the Federal Government, “Immediately withdraw the directive to broadcast stations to deactivate their Twitter accounts.”

The groups asked that the Federal Government end the widespread impunity for human rights violations, in particular the rights to freedom of expression including online, access to information and media freedom.

They called on the international community, including the UN and the African Union to publicly condemn the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria and to put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to reverse the decision.

According to the groups, Social media platforms have helped Nigerians to receive information, impart the same, hold useful conversations, and hold the Nigerian authorities to account. A clear example is how social media was used to drive police accountability in the #EndSARs protests last year.

They lamented that the Nigerian authorities have also set plans in motion to force social media platforms to register in Nigeria and comply with local regulations before they are licensed to operate.

“The Nigerian authorities have continued to propose laws to regulate the social media, and restrict the rights to freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom, including through legislative bills popularly known as the ‘Hate Speech Bill’ and ‘The Social Media Bill’ which both provide severe punitive sanctions such as the death penalty in some cases, for social media users convicted of “crimes” provided under them,” they added.

The civil groups said the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria is inconsistent and incompatible with the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) and the country’s international human rights obligations including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The statement was jointly signed by Amnesty International Nigeria; CISLAC (Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre); Global Rights; Nigeria Mourns; Business and Human Rights Roundtable; Tap Initiative for citizens development; Civil society consortium on civic space; Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD); Alliances for Africa; WILPF Nigeria; Echoes of Women in Africa Initiatives; Akubeze Okocha; B.E.E Initiative; Access to Justice; Sterling Centre for Law & Development; Concerned Nigerians; JENNON-PIUS &Co initiative; Education as a Vaccine; Invictus Africa; Dinidari Foundation; Raising New Voices Initiative; Centre for Impact Advocacy (CIA); Stand To End Rape Initiative (STER); BudgIT; The Interactive Initiative for Social Impact; Enough is Enough (EiE); Yiaga Africa; among others.

 

#TwitterBan: PDP Reps Walk Out During Plenary

 

Some lawmakers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday staged a walkout during plenary at the House of Representatives.

The lawmakers staged the walkout after its caucus leader Kingsley Chinda was ruled out of order by Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila.

Mr Chinda had prayed the House to urge the Federal Government to suspend the ban while the house conducts its investigation into the legality of the ban.

READ ALSO: PDP Caucus Threatens Legal Action Against FG Over Twitter Ban

Chinda noted that the implication is that the ban would remain for 10 days and the rights of Nigerians would be kept in abeyance during the period of investigation.

The Speaker, however, cited part of the Standing Orders of the House stating that a matter that had been concluded by the parliament cannot be revisited for a debate.

The Speaker, therefore, ruled Chinda out of order, a decision that did not go down well with some members of the opposition who walked out of plenary.

The PDP lawmakers also insisted that they would continue with their threat to go to court over the matter.

PDP caucus in the House of Representatives had earlier threatened legal action against the Federal Government over its ban of Twitter operations in Nigeria.

Leader of the caucus in a statement last week Sunday noted that the Nigerian government does not have the power to ban the social media platform, arguing that the action lowers the country’s image in the eyes of other democratic nations.

#TwitterBan: US, UK, EU Envoys Insist Nigeria Must Protect Freedom Of Expression

 

The envoys of the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union in Nigeria among others, have insisted that the Federal Government’s suspension of Twitter, is a violation of the fundamental human right of freedom of expression.

The envoys who met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, in Abuja on Monday, urged the government to protect freedom of expression.

US ambassador to Nigeria, Mary-Beth Leonards, who spoke on behalf of others said they were delighted to see Nigeria succeed, and that all challenges have solutions.

“We are here as partners who want to see Nigeria succeed. We want to see this place unified, peaceful and prosperous and that’s how all of our activities are arranged. I think we have to be very clear that we are Nigeria’s strong partners on issues of security and we recognise the daunting times and the array of security challenges that confront Nigeria.

“While they are daunting, they are not insurmountable and part of the way to surmount them is through partnership of the people you see represented here,” Leonards said.

 

Mary-Beth Leonards

 

“Not only in physical security but in terms of expanding opportunities and promoting mediation and dialogue; this is all very important and we look forward to continuing that partnership and continuing our conversation around important issues like media freedom.

“We re-affirm our position that free access to the ability to express oneself is actually very important and perhaps more important in troubled times.

Read Also: FG Gives Condition To Be Met Before Twitter Ban Is Lifted

Meanwhile, the Federal Government says it would restore Twitter operations in Nigeria if the platform would be used responsibly by the citizens.

While highlighting that the responsibility of the government is to protect law, order, and human lives, Onyeama made it clear that there is no definite time for lifting the ban.

“The condition would be a responsible use of the social media and that really has to be it.”

“We are not saying that Twitter is threatening the country or any such thing; why we have taken this measure is to stop them to be used as platforms for destabilization and facilitation of criminality or encouragement of criminalities,” Onyeama stated.

#TwitterBan: ‘Tweets’ In Line With UN Declaration Of Human Rights – Adeboye

 

The General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, says the use of social media application, Twitter is in line with Article 19 of the UN universal declaration of Human Rights.

The senior pastor said in defence of his post on Monday, via the now-banned platform.

“The Redeemed Christian Church of God is domiciled in more than 170 nations & territories,” Pastor Adeboye said, adding, “the tweets here are in accordance to Article 19 of the UN universal declaration of Human Rights”.

His comments come days after the Federal Government announced a suspension of Twitter in Nigeria.

Read Also: FG Gives Condition To Be Met Before Twitter Ban Is Lifted

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed while announcing the suspension cited the persistent use of the platform for activities that are “capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”

Following the announcement, telecom operators in Nigeria blocked Twitter leaving users in the country unable to access the microblogging website while some navigated the hurdle using Virtual Private Networks (VPN).

Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has also directed the immediate prosecution of offenders of the Federal Government’s ban on Twitter operations in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government says it would restore operations of the app in Nigeria if the platform would be used responsibly by the citizens.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, disclosed this on Monday after a meeting with some of the top envoys of various Diplomatic Missions in Nigeria.

#TwitterBan Is Clear Violation Of Democratic Rights – Reps Minority Caucus

A file photo of House of Representatives Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu.

 

The Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives has condemned the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria by the Federal Government describing it as a clear violation of freedom of speech and other democratic rights and tenets as provided by the 1999 constitution.

The lawmakers, in a statement by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Ndudi Elumelu, on Saturday, described the suspension as “provocative, obnoxious and unjustifiable”.

The caucus said it holds that the decision of the Federal Government in suspending Twitter “smacks of intolerance, insensitivity, and aversion to the views, opinions and aspirations of Nigerian citizens, especially the youths, on matters of state.”

READ ALSO: Reverse Unlawful Suspension Of Twitter And Suspend Plan To Gag Media, Amnesty Tells FG

They rejected the decision of the Federal Government which according to them amounts to a clampdown and a direct infringement on the rights of Nigerians to free speech as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

They further described the suspension as suppressing of Nigerian citizens.

“It further shows the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration as one that is unwilling to listen to Nigerians but ready to use any means to suppress and subjugate its citizens.

“The Minority Caucus is disturbed that the suspension of Twitter in the country came after the social media platform deleted President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweets.

“Such response by the Federal Government has raised further concerns over the APC-led administration’s disturbing rating on issues of political intolerance, abuse of rights and violation of rules in our country.”

The action of the Federal Government, according to the Minority Caucus is coming at a time the National Assembly is conducting its public hearing towards the amendment of the constitution and may constitute a major setback capable of diminishing public confidence in the exercise as well as other processes genuine efforts by the legislature to strengthen democratic tenets in the country.

The Minority caucus, therefore, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately reverse the suspension placed on Twitter so as not to exacerbate the already tensed situation in the country.

 

#TwitterBan: Malami Orders Prosecution Of Offenders

Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, made an appearance on Channels Television on June 30, 2020.
File photo of Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.

 

Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has directed the immediate prosecution of offenders of the Federal Government’s ban on Twitter operations in Nigeria.

This was announced in a statement issued by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice on Saturday.

Spokesperson of the Ministry, Umar Jibrilu Gwandu said the AGF has directed DPPF to swing into immediate action and commence prosecution of the violators of the ban.

READ ALSO: Twitter Ban: Aisha Buhari Deactivates Twitter Account

“Malami directed the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF) at the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to swing into action and commence in earnest the process of prosecution of violators of the Federal Government De-activation of operations of Twitter in Nigeria.

“Malami directed the DPPF to liase with the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, National Communication Communication (NCC) and other relevant government agencies to ensure the speedy prosecution of offenders without any further delay,” the statement read in part.

The Federal Government of Nigeria on Friday announced the indefinite suspension of Twitter in the country.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed while announcing the suspension cited the persistent use of the platform for activities that are “capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”

Following the announcement, telecom operators in Nigeria blocked Twitter leaving users in the country unable to access the microblogging website while some navigated the hurdle using Virtual Private Networks (VPN).

Twitter Is A Source Of Livelihood For Youths, Makinde Appeals To FG To Reverse #TwitterBan

 

Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, has urged the Federal Government to reverse its suspension of the microblogging site, Twitter, noting that the platform is a source of livelihood for many Nigerian youths.

The governor in a statement on Saturday said Twitter is not only a communication tool but an application used by brands for the visibility of their products and services.

“We should also remember that Twitter has gone beyond a source of communication for many of our hardworking youths in Nigeria. It has become a source of livelihood for many, irrespective of their political affiliations or religious leanings. Nigerian youths and digital communications organisations earn a living from being able to use the platform to post communications on behalf of their clients.

READ ALSO: Twitter Ban: Aisha Buhari Deactivates Twitter Account

“Others who may not have physical stores also rely on Twitter to give visibility to their products and services,” he said.

The governor urged leaders to shun emotional reactions noting that Twitter is a platform Nigerians use to exercise their fundamental right.

“As leaders, we should go beyond emotional reactions to issues and think about how our actions will affect the people we lead and our international ratings socially and economically.

“Twitter has become the platform for young people and indeed all Nigerians to exercise their fundamental right to express and publish an opinion. They use the platform to complain, argue and give feedback to government and its agencies who in turn, use these to improve policies.”

According to the governor, this is a fundamental point that should be kept in mind as we debate the necessity of this suspension.

He called on the Federal Government to show an active interest in how certain their policies and actions affect investor confidence.

 

 

Twitter Suspension

Seyi Makide’s statement is in reaction to the announcement by the Federal Government of Nigeria suspension of Twitter in the country.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed,
announced the suspension in a statement issued by his office in Abuja.

He cited the persistent use of the platform for activities that are “capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”

The Federal Government has also directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria.

Twitter Ban: Aisha Buhari Deactivates Twitter Account

A file photo of Nigeria's First Lady, Aisha Buhari
A file photo of the First Lady, Mrs Aisha Buhari.

 

 

First lady, Aisha Buhari, has deactivated her Twitter account after an announcement on Friday evening.

I will be deactivating my twitter account for now. Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria,” she wrote before deactivating her account.

The first lady’s action follows the Federal Government’s proclamation that it is suspending the activities of the social media platform in the country.

 

 

Saturday morning saw many Nigerians unable to access the site, except through Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), who gave the opportunity to establish a protected network connection while using the now blocked networks.

As such, their Internet footprint does not bear Nigeria but the country the VPN changes to.

The #TwitterBan came two days after the social media giant deleted a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari’s account for violating its rules.

Twitter deleted a remark on the president’s account after he referred to the country’s civil war in a warning about the recent unrest in the southeast.

Buhari referred to “those misbehaving” in recent violence in the southeast, where officials blame separatists for attacks on police and election offices.

Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand,” the president had posted on Twitter.

The Federal Government has suspended, indefinitely, the operations of the microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, in Nigeria,” ministry of information and culture spokesman Segun Adeyemi said in a statement on Friday.

Twitter said that the move was “deeply concerning“.

We’re investigating and will provide updates when we know more,” the company said in a statement.

Twitter Blocked After FG’s Order To Telecos

File photo of Twitter logo

 

Telecoms operators in Nigeria have blocked Twitter in Nigeria, a day after the Federal government announced its indefinite suspension.

Twitter users in the country woke up on Saturday unable to access the microblogging websites while some navigated the hurdle using Virtual Private Networks (VPN).

The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), an industry group, confirmed it had received directives from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the industry regulator, to suspend access to Twitter.

The President of ALTON, Gbenga Adebayo, made this known in a statement on Saturday.

Mr Adebayo noted that the association wished to confirm that its members had received formal instructions from NCC, the industry regulator, to suspend access to Twitter.

READ ALSO: Twitter Ban: There Is No Constitutional Authority To Support FG’s Peremptory Action – NBA

“ALTON has also conducted a robust assessment of the request in accordance with internationally accepted principles.

“Based on national interest provisions in the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, and within the licence terms under which the industry operates; our members have acted in compliance with the directives of NCC, the industry regulator.

“We will continue to engage all relevant authorities and stakeholders and will act as may be further directed by the NCC, ” Mr Adebayo said.

He said the association remains committed to supporting the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and upholding the rights of citizens.

He, however, said as an industry, ALTON endorsed the position of the United Nations that the rights held by people offline must also be protected online.

He noted that this included respecting and protecting the rights of all people to communicate, to share information freely and responsibly, and to enjoy privacy and security regarding their data and their use of digital communications.

 

Civil War Tweet

The Federal Government of Nigeria on Friday announced the indefinite suspension of Twitter in the country.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed,
announced the suspension in a statement issued by his office in Abuja.

He cited the persistent use of the platform for activities that are “capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.”

The Federal Government has also directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to immediately commence the process of licensing all OTT and social media operations in Nigeria.

The government had announced the suspension barely 48 hours after the microblogging site deleted a post by Mr Buhari referencing the country’s civil war, and threatening to treat those attacking government buildings “with the language they understand.”

His comments received condemnation from Nigerians.

 

 

-‘Repressive action’ –

Amnesty International on Friday condemned the move, calling on Nigeria to “immediately reverse the unlawful suspension”.

“This repressive action is a clear attempt to censor dissent & stifle the civic space,” Human Rights Watch researcher Anietie Ewang said.

Twitter said that the move was “deeply concerning”.

“We’re investigating and will provide updates when we know more,” the company said in a statement.

The UK’s deputy high commissioner in Nigeria Gill Atkinson in reaction to the suspension said “any action taken by government must be measured, proportionate and not suppress basic freedoms.”

Nigeria in 2019 had announced it would tighten regulations on social media to fight fake news and disinformation, sparking concerns over freedom of expression.

Several countries including China and Turkey have come under fire for putting restrictions on social media platforms such as Twitter.

In February Twitter condemned Myanmar for blocking access to its platform as part of a crackdown on social media, days after a coup that saw Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders jailed.